Rebecca Soni

Rebecca Soni retires from swimming

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Rebecca Soni hasn’t competed since the 2012 Olympics, and she won’t do so again, retiring from the sport.

Soni, 26, won six Olympic medals over two Games in 2008 and 2012. She won the 200m breaststroke in both Olympics, split gold and silver in the 4x100m medley relay and took two silvers in the 100m breast.

She seemed to cherish the 2012 Olympic 200m gold the most. She broke the world record in the final and became the first woman to break 2 minutes, 20 seconds in the event.

“Achieving my dream of going below 2 minutes and 20 seconds in the 200m breaststroke really put the storybook ending on my career,” Soni said, according to SwimSwam. “I know I’ve conquered my goals in the pool, and now it’s time to conquer something else.”

Soni’s record was broken by Dane Rikke Moller Pedersen at the 2013 World Championships.

If Soni never swims competitively again, it will mark an outlier among major U.S. Olympic swimmers. Soni’s last Olympic swim came at age 25.

Janet Evans attempted to make the 2012 Olympic Team at age 40. Dara Torres was 41 in 2008. Jenny Thompson was 31 in 2004. Natalie Coughlin, 31, and Amanda Beard, 32, are still swimming.

“I considered coming back several time, and it has been fun watching the girls step up and swim so amazingly,” Soni said, according to Swimming World. “It’s been really fun to watch them, but I never felt that calling to get back in there. I had already done my piece, and now is a great time to take the next forward, and maybe approach things from the other side. That’s what motivated me to get the retirement out there.”

In retirement, Soni has launched a company called “The Atlas Ventures” with retired world champion Ariana Kukors to assist current athletes.

“Before I move away from swimming too much, I want to take the time to give back,” Soni told SwimSwam. “The swimming community has become my family, and I want to do my best to inspire the next generation and to share some of the things I’ve learned.”

Ian Thorpe in rehab for depression, alcohol abuse

Italian curler roars after hitting shot to qualify for Olympics (video)

Italy curling
World Curling
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Forgive Amos Mosaner for shouting, for he clinched Italy’s first Olympic curling qualification.

Mosaner’s double takeout in an extra end put Italy past Denmark 6-5 in the last-chance Olympic qualification tournament in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on Sunday.

He rushed down the ice after that last stone, tossed his broom aside, pumped his fist and roared into a group hug with teammates.

Skip Joël Retornaz returns to the Olympics after a 12-year absence. He skipped Italy’s team at the 2006 Olympics, where they earned an automatic berth as host nation.

“This has such a different taste,” the 34-year-old Retornaz said, according to World Curling. “Earning the right on the ice feels great. It feels like a dream for me.”

Denmark later did make the Olympic field as the last nation, beating the Czechs for the spot.

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MORE: List of Russia Olympic medals stripped; new Sochi medal standings

The Pyeongchang Olympic curling fields:

Men
Canada
Sweden
U.S.
Japan
Switzerland
Great Britain
Norway
Italy
Denmark
South Korea

Women
Canada
Russia
Switzerland
Great Britain
U.S.
Sweden
Japan
China
Denmark
South Korea

Mixed Doubles
China
Canada
Russia
U.S.
Switzerland
Norway
Finland
South Korea

Russia says its athletes want to compete at Pyeongchang Olympics

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian athletes are overwhelmingly in favor of competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Games despite a ban on the national team, the country’s Olympic committee said Monday.

Sofia Velikaya said the Russian Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission, which she chairs, has heard from “all the athletes in all sports” on the Olympic program, with a majority in favor of competing.

Velikaya said no athletes have told the ROC they would rather boycott.

“At the current moment, everyone’s training and everyone’s hoping to take part in the Olympics,” Velikaya said.

The International Olympic Committee last week barred the Russian team from Pyeongchang because of doping offenses at the Sochi Olympics, but is allowing Russians to compete under a neutral flag as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the government won’t stand in their way.

ROC spokesman Konstantin Vybornov said teams from biathlon and snowboard had recorded videos affirming their desire to compete, while the men’s hockey team has written “a collective letter.”

Some Russian hardliners believe it is shameful for athletes to compete at the Olympics without their national flag. But Velikaya defended the athletes, saying everyone watching will know who is from Russia.

“The choice of competing at the Olympics is strictly individual,” Velikaya said. “I call on Russian society to treat athletes’ decisions with understanding and respect.”

With the IOC due to send out invitations to individual Russians over the next two months, Velikaya said Russian sports officials would put together lists of their preferred teams.

Those rosters, she said, would stop the IOC from inviting “numbers five and six” in the Russian team while leaving out genuine medal contenders.

Russia is pushing back against some IOC conditions, however, backing appeals by Russian athletes banned for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Velikaya also said her commission will ask the IOC to remove a condition stopping athletes from being invited to Pyeongchang if they have been suspended for doping in the past.

That affects a few athletes with earlier offenses unconnected to the Sochi Olympics, including biathletes banned for using the blood-booster EPO and speed skating world champion Denis Yuskov, who was suspended in 2008 after testing positive for marijuana.

Forcing the Russians to compete as neutral athletes puts the IOC in the uncomfortable position of regulating how they celebrate.

The Russian flag won’t be flown at medal ceremonies, but what happens if a Russian winner accepts a flag or a gift from a spectator for a victory lap? Can Russian athletes fly the flag from their windows in the athletes village?

Those are on a list of questions Vybornov said Russia will ask of the IOC.

“A figure skater wins, let’s say, and they throw her a teddy bear in Russian uniform onto the ice,” Vybornov said. “She picks it up. Can she do that? Or is that an offense?”

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MORE: List of Russia Olympic medals stripped; new Sochi medal standings