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

Yuzuru Hanyu sets short program record; Wagner in medal territory at NHK Trophy

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu set the new short program world record – raising his own world record by about five points from when he set it in Sochi – to lead the men’s field at the NHK Trophy in Nagano, Japan.

The 20-year-old landed two clean quads, one in combination, and a triple Axel in front of a home crowd. In his other Grand Prix appearance, two of those three jumps received zero points.

China’s Jin Boyang and Hanyu’s countryman Takahito Mura sit in second and third place, respectively, though Hanyu has built a 10-point lead heading into tonight’s free program. Jin landed two quads and a triple Axel cleanly, a program that surely would lead in any other field, while Mura was clean, too.

By holding off the competition, which seems likely, Hanyu can clinch a berth into the Grand Prix Final, where he is reigning champion.

Richard Dornbush and Grant Hochstein are the only U.S. men in the competition, as Jason Brown withdrew due to a back sprain. Dornbush is seventh and Hochstein is eighth before tonight’s free program.

2015 Worlds silver medalist Satoko Miyahara of Japan leads the ladies’ field after the short program over the other Japanese skater highlighting the field, Mao Asada (currently fourth), and two of the U.S.’ skaters. Courtney Hicks is second while Ashley Wagner is third. Vancouver Olympian Mirai Nagasu is fifth.

Miyahara landed three triples in her short program, compared to Hicks and Wagner, who both turned out of their planned triple-triple combinations. Nagasu was relatively clean in her short program. Asada fell on her signature triple Axel attempt and singled her planned triple Lutz.

Asada made her return to competition this season after winning the 2014 World title but skipping the subsequent season. Both Asada and Wagner can clinch berths to the Grand Prix Final by winning medals of any color in tonight’s free program. More on that process here.

It seems it is impossible to discuss figure skating results without mentioning the Russian dominance in the ladies’ field; however, in the short program, their competitors sat a lackluster seventh, ninth, and 11th in a field of 11. Russia’s Maria Artemieva, Alena Leonova and Anna Pogorilaya each had at least one fall in their short programs.

Canadian pairs team Meaghan Duhamel and Eric Radford are in the hunt for their ninth straight international win and a Grand Prix Final berth – a feat made a lot easier after the withdrawl of Olympic pairs champs Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov of Russia. The Canadian pair leads over Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim of the United States, currently second, also looking for a berth with a medal in Japan.

Men’s free skate — Saturday, 2:30 a.m. ET (start order here)
Women’s free skate — Saturday, 5:35 a.m. ET (start order here)

Russia vows to follow all WADA recommendations on doping

Russia Olympic Committee
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MOSCOW (AP) Russia says it will follow any recommendations from the World Anti-Doping Agency to clean up its own troubled drug-testing body.

A WADA commission’s report this month accused the Russian anti-doping agency, RUSADA, of covering up failed drug tests by top athletes. RUSADA was suspended by WADA following the report’s publication.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko met WADA director general David Howman in Germany on Thursday.

According to an account of the meeting posted by the ministry, Mutko said Russia would “follow all recommendations from WADA aimed at the necessary transformations in the activities and structure of RUSADA.”

The ministry also quoted Howman as saying he welcomed Mutko’s assurances “with pleasure.”

Russia’s track and field team was also suspended this month by the IAAF and could miss next year’s Olympics in Brazil.

MORE: Ashton Eaton named male IAAF Athlete of the Year