Yevgeny Plushenko

Yevgeny Plushenko changes mind, wants to compete in singles

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Yevgeny Plushenko thought better of his plans for the Sochi Olympics, saying he wants to compete in both the team and individual events in a Russian interview.

Plushenko, the three-time Olympic medalist, previously said after finishing second at the Russian Championships in December that he wanted to be part of the new Olympic figure skating team event and let Russian national champion Maksim Kovtun compete in the individual event.

Though Plushenko finished behind Kovtun at nationals, he is thought to be the preferred choice for Russia’s single men’s spot at the Olympics.

The problem with Plushenko’s original plan was that a country can’t sub out a skater after the team event with a new one for the individual event if it only has one qualified spot, like Russia does for men.

Plushenko could compete in the team event, become injured, and pull out of the individual event and potentially allow Kovtun to take his place.

But that does not appear to be his intention. Plushenko told ITAR-TASS he intends to honor the rules and compete in both events in Sochi. That is, if he is picked over Kovtun by Russia’s figure skating federation.

He stated his case to ITAR-TASS in comments translated by Agence France-Presse.

“I just want to remind those who question my right to compete at Sochi that last year Kovtun was fifth in the Russian Nationals, but nevertheless he performed both at the European and the World Championships,” Plushenko said. “After he finished 17th at the World Championships in London, Canada, Russia received only one place at the Olympics tournament.

“Kovtun performed well at last month’s nationals, but one needs to have solid experience of top international competitions to aspire to win Olympic medals.”

Russia is expected to choose between Plushenko and Kovtun after Kovtun competes at the European Championships next week.

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Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

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Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

Kobe Bryant
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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

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