Lais Souza

Brazil Olympic gymnast turned skier unable to move arms, legs after crash

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Aerials skier Lais Souza, a two-time Olympic gymnast for Brazil, is unable to move her arms or legs in a Utah hospital after a skiing training crash Monday.

Souza was in an intensive care unit at a University of Utah hospital, awake and breathing with the help of ventilation Wednesday, according to the Brazil Olympic Committee.

She had spine surgery after suffering severe trauma in a Salt Lake City crash Monday.

”Lais has a long recovery process in front of her,” Team Brasil doctor Antonio Marttos said, according to the committee. ”A long-term prognostic cannot be predicted at this time. Her medical team is doing everything possible to allow her to have the best recovery possible.”

Souza, 25, attempted to become the first Olympic gymnast to compete in a Winter Olympics this year, according to OlympStats.com.

Brazil did not automatically qualify for women’s aerials, but was the fourth alternate in reallocation if other countries that did earn spots gave them back. So far, the top three alternates have been added to the Olympic field, making Brazil the top alternate.

Souza competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics gymnastics competition but was injured for 2012.

Photos: Sochi Olympic cauldron tested by fire crew

Syria-born Olympian takes advocacy role at U.N. refugee agency

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency has chosen as a goodwill ambassador a Syrian teenage girl who helped save a boat carrying fellow refugees and later became an Olympic swimmer.

Yusra Mardini was appointed as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on Thursday, joining other notables like actress Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini in the unpaid advocacy role.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Mardini “represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped overboard and swam for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

She swam on the first Refugee Olympic team in Rio last year and has discussed refugees’ challenges with leaders like Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

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Rafael Nadal recreates famous 1992 Olympic cauldron lighting

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Rafael Nadal, owner of two Olympic gold medals, recently parroted arguably the most famous moment in Spanish Olympic history.

Nadal and Marc Lopez, the 2016 Olympic doubles champions, took up bows and arrows and joined archer Antonio Rebollo on Monday at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium. It brought back memories of Rebollo’s unforgettable cauldron lighting from the only Olympics held in Spain.

Nadal is in Barcelona for an ATP Tour event as he prepares to vie for a 10th French Open title next month.

Rebollo, now 61 years old, was one of 200 hundred archers considered to light the cauldron in 1992. He learned that he was chosen for the role over four other finalists two hours ahead of time, according to an NBC Olympics profile in 1996.

The cauldron would be 195 feet away. Fearing Rebollo would miss the target, organizers instructed him to fire his arrow beyond the stadium walls. As the arrow soared, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control.

The illusion worked. The true story wasn’t revealed for another 20 years.

“There were no fears,” Rebollo, a Barcelona native who contracted polio at age 8, told NBC two decades ago. “I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. That was all. … My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.”

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