Emily Scott will be one of more than 200 athletes competing for the U.S. in Sochi and one of eight short track speed skaters.
But the story of how she got there is as unique as any on the Olympic Team.
Scott, 24, qualified for her first Olympics at the U.S. Short Track Trials on Jan. 4.
That came about six months after she filed for food stamps and about 15 years after her mother, Carol, went to jail for the first time.
NBC Sports’ Joe Posnanski details Scott’s journey in this profile.
“A girl that age doesn’t understand everything. But Emily understood enough. Her mother was a methamphetamine addict and trafficker. She was unstable, out of control, unable to deal with life. Emily’s time with her had been bewildering and sometimes frightening and always unsteady. “Everyone chooses a path,” Emily says gently. “Unfortunately that was her path.”
In light of the recent Jamaican Bobsled Team headlines, it’s important to remember many Olympians face financial struggles.
A year ago, Emily Scott lost almost all of her funding. There were numerous problems at U.S. Speedkating — speedskater Simon Cho admitted to tampering with a competitor’s skate, speedkating coach Jae Su Chun was forced to resign after alleged physical and verbal abuse, financially the group was a shambles — and Scott’s funding was cut from almost $2,000 a month to $600. Her apartment in Salt Lake City costs $500 a month. Even with her job at a surgical supply factory, she could not make ends meet.
“Scared?” she asks. “Yes. Of course I was scared. I was in panic mode. I felt like everything I had worked so hard for so many years was crashing down.”
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Russian Maria Paseka, who beat Simone Biles on vault at the 2015 World Championships, is not certain to compete in the Olympics due to a back injury, according to Russian news agency TASS.
Biles is considered a clear favorite for four gold medals — not done by a female gymnast since Romanian Ecaterina Szabo in 1984 — and could win five golds — never done by an American woman or a female gymnast.
Biles captured gold medals at the last two World Championships in the team event, all-around, balance beam and floor exercise.
Vault is her fifth and most questionable event. Biles took silver, silver and bronze on vault at the last three world championships.
Paseka is the only returning vault medalist from the 2012 Olympics (she took bronze) in addition to being the reigning world champion.
Regardless of Paseka, Biles’ primary competition in the vault final may be the 2008 Olympic champion, North Korea’s Hong Un-Jong, who could not compete in London due to North Korea’s ban for age falsification.
Like Biles, Hong earned vault medals at the last three world championships, including gold in 2014.
Biles’ vaults at worlds were less difficult than Paseka and Hong, causing her to lose eight tenths in start value. Biles has since upgraded her weaker vault, increasing her start value.
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Russian president Vladimir Putin said Olympic medals won in events lacking Russian contenders will be devalued, speaking to athletes who will be going to Rio at the Kremlin on Wednesday.
Russia is set to send just one track and field athlete, plus fewer athletes in many sports, to Rio amid its doping scandal.
It could significantly alter the Rio Olympic medal standings, as Russia finished third in overall medals at the 2012 London Games with 79 — behind the U.S.’ 103 and China’s 88.
“It is obvious that the absence of Russian athletes, the leaders in many sports events, significantly reduces the intensity of the competition, and hence makes the upcoming events less spectacular” Putin told the Russian team Wednesday, according to Russian news agency TASS. “I think that your colleagues from other world’s leading sports powers also understand that the quality of their medals will be different, because it’s one thing to defeat an equal, strong opponent, and quite another – to compete with obviously weaker opponents. Such victory has a very different taste or maybe bad taste.”
Also at the event, two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva broke down while addressing the Olympic team (video here). Isinbayeva was barred from the Rio Games due to Russia’s track and field ban, though she has never failed a drug test.
MORE: Five Russian track and field stars set to miss Rio