Paralympics

Ukraine may leave Sochi Paralympics if situation escalates

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Ukraine’s athletes are set to compete in the Paralympics, but the nation may pull out of Sochi if the nation’s current situation with Russia escalates, its Paralympic head said before the Opening Ceremony on Friday.

Russia reportedly made military moves in the Crimea region of Ukraine beginning Saturday, and the area’s parliament voted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia on Thursday. NBC News has full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine situation here.

On Friday, Ukraine Paralympic Committee president Valeriy Sushkevich said if “some acts happen to escalate the conflict … we will leave [Sochi], we will not be able to be here,” according to R-Sport.

“I declare that should this happen we will leave the Games,” Sushkevich said, according to the BBC. “We cannot possibly stay here in this case.”

Sushkevich said he discussed the situation with Russian president Vladimir Putin in a half-hour meeting on Thursday night and that “no guarantees” were given by either side, according to reports.

“I told Putin my one and most important request, linked to that during the Paralympics there was peace,” he said. “So that concrete, significant steps were made so that human rights are preserved during the Paralympic Games.”

He added Friday that Ukraine’s athletes, a team of 23 according to The Associated Press, could have trouble concentrating on the competition.

“I don’t remember a situation when the organizing country during a Paralympics started an intervention on the territory of a country taking part,” Sushkevich said, according to R-Sport. “I don’t know what to extent the team can focus on the result now.”

The Opening Ceremony is set for Friday at 11 a.m. ET.

https://twitter.com/Brian_Pinelli/status/441890880933625856

Five competition storylines to watch at Paralympics

Watch profile of Kyle Snyder, youngest American to win wrestling World title

Kyle Snyder
AP
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Kyle Snyder, who became the youngest American to win a World Wrestling Championship on Sept. 11, had planned to redshirt his sophomore year at Ohio State to focus on training for the Rio Olympics.

But Snyder is back wrestling for the Buckeyes this season.

Why?

“Kyle wants to help the team win the national title,” Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said. “It doesn’t hurt Kyle’s chances to make the Olympic team. We meet. He jumps on it.”

The announcement that Snyder would wrestle this season was made at 12:01 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Learn more about Snyder in an NBC Columbus affiliate profile.

MORE WRESTLING: Burroughs says he’s ‘on Mount Rushmore’

Lydia Ko: Olympics are top priority this year

Lydia Ko
AP
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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — Top-ranked golfer Lydia Ko says the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be her top priority this year.

Ko, who will defend her New Zealand Open title from Friday, said there was “so much excitement and vibe” around the Olympic tournament, “especially as it’s the first time women will play at the Olympics in golf.”

The 18-year-old New Zealander said “ever since they announced that golf will be in the Olympics I said, ‘Hey, I want to get myself on that team.’ For any athlete to say you’re an Olympian is a whole new proud feeling, and to represent your country on such an international stage it’s going to be a pretty special week.”

The 54-hole New Zealand Open at the Clearwater Golf Club is co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and Australian Ladies PGA.

MORE: Inbee Park criticizes Olympic golf