Bryan Fletcher

Bryan Fletcher overcomes childhood cancer, makes U.S. Olympic Team

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Bryan Fletcher began experiencing headaches, sleeping a lot and losing weight around age 3.

His parents took him to a doctor, and he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“When I first found out about it, I thought it was a death sentence,” his ski patrolman father, Tim, told Yahoo! Sports.

Bryan underwent several years of chemotherapy, including suffering a stroke, before his cancer went into remission by age 10. He entered kindergarten with a bald head but made light of his condition by painting it green and wearing a matching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles outfit.

The treatments, such as spinal taps, were excruciatingly painful to the point that Tim would hang onto Bryan as he screamed.

During that time, Bryan picked up Nordic combined. Ski jumping and cross-country skiing kept his spirits alive living in his hometown trademarked, “Ski Town USA.”

His doctors in Denver, a 2 1/2-hour drive away, didn’t want him to jump.

“At that point, I didn’t have a very great life expectancy [15 percent],” Bryan told the Deseret News. “So [my mom] just figured, ‘Let him do what he wants to do.'”

Fletcher persevered and had a shot at the 2010 Olympics until he fell down the stairs one month before the Vancouver Games and badly sprained an ankle. Younger brother Taylor made the team instead.

Bryan went, too, but as a volunteer forejumper to test out the ski jumping hill before the competition. Bryan had done the same as a 15-year-old at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

He didn’t give up and spent the last four years improving to become the top-ranked U.S. skier, even meeting the king of Norway after winning an event, and was named to the four-man Olympic Team on Wednesday. So was Taylor.

The battle with cancer will be on Bryan’s mind in Sochi. He teamed with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in Utah to select two children to design artwork on his helmet for the Olympics.

“I look back and think that dealing with cancer might have been a good thing,” Bryan told Steamboat Today. “If I could beat cancer, then I can beat any challenge in my life. It taught me to fight — especially when things get tough.”

U.S. Opening Ceremony uniforms unveiled 

Russian Olympic champion positive in Beijing retest, coach reportedly says

Anna Chicherova
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London Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova is one of many Russians among 31 athletes overall who tested positive in recent retests of Beijing Olympic samples, according to Russian news agency TASS.

“Three days ago, Anna received a notice that her doping sample from the Beijing Olympic tested positive after a re-check, and she called me,” Chicherova’s coach said, according to the report Tuesday. “So far, this is at the development stage and this has not yet been finally confirmed. But all are aware of this and are dealing with the issue.”

Last week, the International Olympic Committee said 31 unnamed athletes from 12 nations across six sports failed drug tests in retesting of 454 samples from 2008 using the latest drug-testing methods.

On Tuesday, TASS reported that 14 Russian athletes, mostly in track and field, were suspected of doping during the Beijing Games after the retests, citing an unnamed Russian Olympic Committee source.

Chicherova, 33, took high jump gold at the London Games and bronze in Beijing. She is one of two track and field athletes to earn an individual-event medal at the last five World Championships and last two Olympics. The other is Usain Bolt.

Chicherova, who has had no previously widespread reported doping history, would be one of Russia’s top Olympic track and field medal hopes in Rio, should the ban on Russian track and field athletes competing be lifted before the Games.

Russia is expected to learn if it will be allowed to send a track and field team to Rio on June 17.

MORE: Russia track and field boss: ’50-60 percent’ chance of Olympics

Hiroshi Hoketsu mulls breaking Olympian age record at Tokyo 2020

Hiroshi Hoketsu
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Japan dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, who abandoned his bid to become the oldest Olympian ever in Rio, could see his career come full circle in four years.

Hoketsu, whose Olympic debut came at the Tokyo 1964 Games, is not ruling out attempting to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at age 79.

“If I can do it and be in Tokyo, that would be marvelous,” Hoketsu said, according to Reuters. “I have to see if it will still be physically possible.”

The oldest Olympian is Swede Oscar Swahn, who earned 1920 Olympic shooting silver at age 72.

Hoketsu, 75 and the oldest Olympian at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, sought to make his fourth Olympic team this year. It was derailed due to his horse’s illness.

After debuting at Tokyo 1964, Hoketsu went 44 years between Games appearances. He finished 41st out of 50 competitors in individual dressage at London 2012, according to sports-reference.com.

MORE: Oldest surviving Olympic champion dies