Jeremy Abbott

Jeremy Abbott ‘kind of on the fence’ about retiring

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NEW YORK — Jeremy Abbott isn’t ready to retire just yet.

The four-time U.S. champion is reconsidering a plan to walk away from competitive figure skating after the recently finished season. He cited his performance at the World Championships two weeks ago, where he finished fifth, as a motivator.

“Going through the whole week of worlds, I really felt like I could potentially compete another year,” said Abbott, smiling and wearing a colorful bow tie at a Figure Skating in Harlem event in Central Park on Monday night. “I’m kind of on the fence at the moment. I really need to take some time away from the sport and really meditate over it and mull things over inside. If I continue, what I would want to do it for and why.”

Abbott, 28, matched his best career World Championships finish in Saitama, Japan, in his fifth World Championships appearance. He was coming off a second straight disappointing Olympic showing, taking 12th in Sochi after placing ninth in Vancouver in 2010. Abbott did win a bronze medal in the Olympic team event.

“I learned so much about myself this season, as a skater, as a competitor, more than I have in my entire career,” Abbott said in between autographing pictures and skates indoors, sheltered from plodding rain. “I really felt like I gained a lot of momentum. I kind of want to put that to use.”

Abbott was in eighth place after the short program at the World Championships but had the fourth best free skate, trailing only the gold, silver and bronze medalists.

“If that was my finale, what a way to go,” Abbott said. “If not, hopefully I have more to give.”

Abbott will continue skating no matter what. If it’s not in competitions, it will be in shows such as the ongoing Stars on Ice tour. He gained perspective on his career listening to his introduction at the first show last week.

“Olympic bronze medalist, four-time national champion” preceded his name.

“Have I really been at this that long?” he said.

Abbott has won more U.S. titles than Evan Lysacek or Johnny Weir and the same number as Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano.

“I’ve always wanted to skate,” Abbott said. “If and when I decide to retire … I want to perform. I want to be on the ice. I want to continue contributing to the sport. I feel like I still have a lot to offer.”

Mirai Nagasu talks about missing Olympics

Zika won’t stop Olympics; only war has done that, historian says

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 07:  A general view of the Christ The Redeemer statue atop the Corcovado on July 7, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
AP
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The world’s best known Olympic historian said Friday it will take something more destructive than the Zika virus to cancel the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“Historically, the only times the Games have been cancelled is in war — World War I and World War II,” David Wallechinsky told the Associated Press. “Other than that, nothing has done it.”

Brazil is the epicenter of the rapidly spreading mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is also generating rumors that South America’s first Games may be called off instead of opening on Aug. 5.

Researchers have linked the virus to a birth defect that can leave newborns with long-lasting health and developmental problems.

Brazil’s Sports Minister George Hilton issued a statement saying that canceling the Games “is not in discussion,” and Rio organizers and the International Olympic Committee have repeatedly shot down the notion it’s even being considered.

Wallechinsky, president of the International Society of Olympic Historians, said the only similar case was the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, when three athletes from west Africa were banned from competing over fears they had contracted the Ebola virus and the subsequent possibility of it spreading.

“That’s the only time that disease has ever entered into it,” he said.

The 1916 Olympics were called off during World War I, and four Games — two summer and two winter — were cancelled between 1940 and 1944. Two Summer Olympics were hit by partial boycotts in 1980 and 1984.

Wallechinsky said it was too late to move the games from Rio.

“A lot of money has been put into this; the athletes, the infrastructure,” he said. “It’s pretty late to move the Games so I think they’ll go forward.”

Brazil is spending at least $10 billion to prepare for the Games. Add to that, billions spent on television rights, and maybe just as much on sponsorship, advertising across 28 sport federations, and the more than 200 nations that participate.

“There would be a lot of lawsuits,” Wallechinsky said. “It would be a dream event for lawyers.”

The Zika virus adds to other problems with South America’s first Olympics, including water pollution in Rio’s venues for sailing, rowing, canoeing, triathlon and open-water swimming , and deep cuts of almost 30 percent to keep a $2 billion operating budget in balance.

Only about half of the domestic tickets for the game have been sold, and organizers fear the Zika outbreak could scare off foreign tourists — particularly Americans.

Janice Forsyth, an Olympic historian at Western University in Canada, predicted the Zika threat “is going to blow over.”

“But if it really catches on, then we’ve got a global concern that’s not just about the Olympics,” she said. “But it would have to be really extraordinary for the game to be cancelled. Even with threats of terrorism, the games still don’t get cancelled.”

Forsyth said the virus might even have beneficial impact on Rio’s preparations, distracting from other problems.

“In a sad way, maybe it’s a positive diversion from what is actually going on with the games,” she said. “A twist for games that seem to be constantly struggling.”

VIDEO: Rio Olympic venues timelapse

‘Race’ film clip of 1936 Olympic long jump (video)

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“Race,” a film about 1936 Olympic legend Jesse Owens‘ triumphs in the face of Nazi Germany, hits theaters Feb. 19.

In the above clip, Owens competes in long jump qualifying after receiving a tip from fellow jumper German Luz Long to avoid fouling on his last attempt to advance to the final.

Owens would then beat Long in the final, though the pair forged a friendship.

In other clips, Owens, played by Stephan James, speaks with his Ohio State coach, Larry Snyder, played by Jason Sudeikis. Watch that here.

Also, Owens discusses taking part in the Olympics amid racial prejudice in the U.S. Watch that here.

MORE: James discusses playing Owens in ‘Race’ | VIDEO: ‘Race’ trailer