Jeremy Abbott

Jeremy Abbott brings queen-sized blow-up mattress to Sochi

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SOCHI – Rest assured: Jeremy Abbott is sleeping well at night.

The American who had a dismal performance at the 2010 Vancouver Games said he’s brought his own mattress to the Sochi Games, righting something that went very wrong for him on his way to a ninth-place finish in Vancouver.

“I brought a queen-sized air mattress,” Abbott told NBCOlympics.com after his practice Monday afternoon at the Iceberg Skating Palace. “I did not do well on the twin bed in Vancouver.”

“[The mattress] is really high; it’s a legitimate bed,” Abbott, 28, said. “Getting it here was a pain; it weighs 25 pounds. I literally packed a suitcase just for the bed, but it’s definitely worth it.”

MORE: Abbott’s early Olympic memories

Abbott has said in the past that he suffered for much of his career from not being able to sleep through the night, a struggle he said had mostly subsided in an October interview. Abbott said in Sochi that Vancouver was no different from aforementioned struggles.

“I toss and turn a lot. For the two and a half weeks I was in Vancouver I didn’t sleep one full night because I was always afraid that I was going to roll off the bed.”

Abbott rolled through his practice session Monday, landing his opening quad-triple combination once in his warm-up and again in his short-program run through. The veteran won the U.S. Championships last month with a record-setting short program, holding off a surging Jason Brown in the free skate.

“It was a good practice. I ran my short program for stamina and it went really well,” Abbott said. “The quad felt good.”

Abbott said the ice in Sochi had a lot of spring, something he liked.

After winning at Nationals in 2010, Abbott said he felt crushed by expectations leading into the Vancouver Games. This time around the Olympics feel shockingly “normal,” he said.

“I never in my life thought I would say this, but it feels all normal, all natural,” Abbott said, laughing. “It’s kind of bizarre to be at the Olympics and think, ‘Yeah, this is normal.'”

“I’m extremely comfortable here. I brought a lot of stuff from home to make sure that I had all of my creature comforts that I would have normally. I think I did it all the right way.”

IPC president: Now is the right time to have Paralympics in Brazil

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International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven said the upcoming Paralympic Games, which open in 100 days, could not be going to a better city than Rio de Janeiro.

“Many people might think that it’s not the time to go there now with the economic and political problems,” Craven said in a phone interview last week. “But is that not just the right time to be going, to just show what sport can truly do to mobilize and galvanize a people?”

And the Zika virus?

“We believe that the measures that have been communicated on a regular basis, reiterated to our member nations, will be effective, and the Zika virus will not have a major effect on the Games,” Craven said.

The Paralympics will visit South America for the first time in their 15th edition. The Rio Games, which run from Sept. 7-18, will have more broadcast coverage than ever and an expected record number of athletes and nations in the largest number of sports on a single Paralympic program.

NBC and NBCSN will air a record 66 hours of coverage of the Games. The USOC will provide live coverage at TeamUSA.org, too.

How the Paralympics will deal with the well-known issues facing Brazil will be largely impacted by how the preceding Olympics handle them.

But one issue unique to the Paralympics came to light four weeks ago.

A British Paralympic champion swimmer was disqualified from a European Championships event because his Olympic rings tattoo was not covered (he later competed at the meet with the tattoo covered).

An International Paralympic Committee swimming rule states, “body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols).”

The rule will cover all sports at the Rio Paralympics. Craven said he has not heard of any appeals by para-athletes to change the rule.

The IPC will take a “common-sense approach” to enforcing the rule in Rio to make sure there are no disqualifications by communicating thoroughly to national committees, Craven said.

“IPC has got very strict rules for the Paralympic Games and for other events prohibiting body advertisements, and this includes tattoos for commercial brands and non-IPC symbols, such as the Olympic rings,” Craven said. “These rules were emphasized, re-emphasized to all competing teams and swimmers at that particular event, and, similarly, we’ll be doing so prior to the Games in Rio.”

Some Paralympians identify themselves as Olympians, too — some have event competed in both Games — but Craven made the difference clear.

The 65-year-old, five-time Paralympic wheelchair basketball player likened Olympic rings tattoos at the Paralympics to an NFL player with an NBA team tattoo.

Craven added that there has been no pressure from the IOC regarding the rule and that he would expect a hypothetical Paralympian competing at the Olympics to cover up a tattoo of the Agitos, which is the Paralympic logo.

“We want Paralympic athletes to show pride in promoting the Paralympic movement, including our symbol, which is the Agitos, which is very different from the Olympic rings,” Craven said. “When you have a Paralympic athlete, a para-athlete sporting a branding from another event, then it just creates confusion. It creates confusion for the IPC. It creates confusion for the IOC.”

MORE: Paralympic champ long jumper still hopes to be allowed into Olympics

First four U.S. Olympic archers qualified; Khatuna Lorig waits

Khatuna Lorig
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The first four U.S. Olympic archers for Rio are known, while Khatuna Lorig will learn in three weeks if she makes her sixth Olympic team.

A full men’s team of 2012 Olympic team silver medalists Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski and first-time Olympian Zach Garrett earned their spots at the U.S. Olympic Trials that ended Monday.

Mackenzie Brown clinched her first Olympic berth by winning the women’s trials Monday.

The U.S. can send two more women to Rio if it qualifies a full team at a World Cup event in Turkey in three weeks. Those two women would be Hye Youn Park and Lorig.

Lorig, 42, is best known for teaching archery to Jennifer Lawrence before “The Hunger Games.” Lorig also competed in the 1992 Olympics for the Unified Team, the 1996 and 2000 Games for Georgia and the 2008 and 2012 Olympics for the U.S.

Lorig earned team bronze at Barcelona 1992 and finished fifth and fourth individually at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic team alternates are Daniel McLaughlin and La Nola Pritchard.

MORE: Full list of athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team