Tatyana McFadden

What’s next for Tatyana McFadden after Sochi success

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Tatyana McFadden admitted to feeling jetlagged, even exhausted after flying home from the Sochi Paralympics.

She’s earned plenty of rest, but she won’t be taking much.

The 24-year-old plans to defend her London Marathon and Boston Marathon wheelchair titles in April, one month after winning a sitting cross-country skiing silver medal to complement her collection of 10 Summer Paralympic medals.

“I’m getting in my chair this week,” McFadden said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s going to be hard. … I think it will take me a few days, a week to get my mind back to wheelchair racing. To get my endurance back.”

In Sochi, McFadden won her silver medal in a 1km sprint to join the list of Paralympians with Summer and Winter medals (three of her Sochi teammates had already accomplished the feat). Each round of the 1km sprint took about 3 minutes.

Her April marathons are each 42 times longer in distance and take about 1 hour, 45 minutes.

McFadden is concerned enough about transitioning back that she won’t yet commit to defending later marathon titles in Chicago and New York and going for a second straight “Grand Slam.” But she felt picking up cross-country skiing over the last year, and the different work that goes into it, will help her on the road to Rio in 2016.

“In [wheelchair] racing it’s all shoulders and all arms,” McFadden said. “[In cross-country skiing], your core kind of drives where your arms go. … Now I’ve got a really strong core and strong lats. I can use that for wheelchair racing.”

On the track, she is considering adding the 5000m to her Paralympic schedule if she makes it to Rio. McFadden didn’t race the event at London 2012, where she bagged four medals with three golds, but won it as part of an unprecedented haul of six golds at the 2013 World Championships.

She’s not done with cross-country skiing, either.

“I sort of got addicted to it,” said McFadden, a Maryland native who spent December through February training on snow in Colorado. “My concentration is on Rio, and then during the winters I will probably go and ski. … We’ll see what happens.”

Ireland’s history at the Olympics

Vera Caslavska, gymnastics legend, dies at 74

Vera Caslavska
AP
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PRAGUE (AP) — Věra Čáslavská, the second-most decorated Olympic female gymnast who stood up against the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, has died. She was 74.

The Czech Olympic Committee on Wednesday said Čáslavská died in Prague late Tuesday. Čáslavská had cancer of the pancreas and underwent surgery on May 15 last year, the committee previously said. She later had chemotherapy treatment.

Čáslavská won 11 Olympic medals, including seven golds, combined in the 1960, 1964 and 1968 Olympics.

She was mentioned many times going into and during the Rio Olympics as the last woman to win back-to-back Olympic all-around titles, which Gabby Douglas was attempting to duplicate.

Only former Soviet star Larisa Latynina earned more Olympic medals among female gymnasts than Čáslavská, who doubles as the most decorated Czech Olympian of all time.

Born on May 3, 1942 in Prague, Čáslavská claimed her first Olympic medal — a silver — at the 1960 Rome Games.

Her golden era began four years later.

She won three Olympic golds in Tokyo in 1964 — in the vault, the individual all-round and the balance beam — to establish herself as a major force in her sport.

Four years later, Čáslavská became an outspoken supporter of Alexander Dubček‘s liberal reforms meant to lead toward democratization of communist Czechoslovakia, an era known as the Prague Spring. She signed the Two Thousand Words manifesto published in June 1968 that called for deeper pro-democratic changes. That document angered the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who ordered the Warsaw Pact’s troops to invade Czechoslovakia to crush the reforms in August.

Facing a possible persecution, Čáslavská went into hiding and was allowed only just before the Mexico Olympics to join the national gymnastics team.

She triumphed in four disciplines, winning the Olympic gold in the vault, the individual all-round, the floor exercises and the uneven bars. With another two silver medals at the 1968 Games, she became the top medalist and was later named the world’s female athlete of the year.

For many, she will be remembered for her silent protest against the Soviet invasion. Standing on the top of the medal stands alongside Soviet gymnast Larisa Petrik, with whom she shared the gold in the floor exercise, Čáslavská turned her head down and to the right when the Soviet national anthem was played.

Combined with her gymnastic performances, the gesture made her the star of the Games.

At home, Čáslavská faced persecution from the post-invasion hard-line Communist regime. It wasn’t until 1974 that she was allowed to work as coach in her country and later, in 1979-81, in Mexico.

After the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution led by Vaclav Havel ended more than 40 years of communism, Čáslavská became Havel’s adviser and was elected the president of the Czechoslovak and later of the Czech Olympic Committee. In 1995-2001, she was a member of the International Olympic Committee.

She received the U.N.’s Pierre de Coubertin Prize for promoting fair play in 1989 and was also awarded the Olympic Order.

In a personal setback, her marriage with Josef Odložil, an athlete whom she married during the Mexico Games, ended in the 1980s. Her son, Martin, was found guilty of assault that led to his father’s death in 1993 and was sentenced to four years in prison. Although he was soon pardoned by Havel, Čáslavská had to undergo treatment for depression and withdrew temporarily from the public life.

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Amy Purdy, Winter Paralympic medalist, to perform at Rio Paralympic Opening Ceremony

Amy Purdy
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Amy Purdy made her name as a snowboardcross bronze medalist at the Sochi Paralympics and runner-up on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2014.

In September, she’ll combine both.

Purdy will perform as a dancer in the Rio Paralympic Opening Ceremony on Sept. 7, in addition to being an NBC reporter during the Games.

She was told her performance will be four to five minutes. On “Dancing with the Stars,” her performances were about 90 seconds, she said. She traveled to Rio for a week of rehearsals in July.

Purdy, 36, survived bacterial meningitis in 1999 but lost both her legs and later needed a kidney from her father at age 20.

“I’m most excited about the concept of this dance,” Purdy said. “Just the idea of man versus machine. A lot of times we feel really limited because of our prosthetics. But this dance, hopefully, will kind of shatter those borders a little bit and allow me to move my body in a way I haven’t done before.”

Purdy is an innovator. She built her own snowboard and is seen as instrumental in getting her sport into the Paralympic program beginning in 2014.

A model, she’s been in a Madonna music video, a Super Bowl commercial, ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue and competed on “The Amazing Race” in 2012.

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