Amy Van Dyken-Rouen

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen’s goal to walk out of hospital in August

1 Comment

Six-time Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen has felt sporadic movement a little bit below her belly button since being paralyzed in a June 6 ATV accident, giving her hope that she may regain some feeling in her legs one day.

Van Dyken-Rouen’s goal is to walk out of her Colorado hospital in August, she told TODAY’s Matt Lauer at the facility last Thursday.

“I am now paralyzed,” she told TODAY. “I am now disabled. I am now paraplegic. Although I aim to not be one day, that’s what I am.”

Van Dyken-Rouen, 41, severed her spine in the ATV accident in Arizona. Her neurosurgeon told the retired swimmer and her husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, to say goodbye to each other before surgery in case she didn’t survive it.

“Right now, I suck at getting out of my chair, just like I sucked at swimming [growing up],” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “This is a new challenge. I’m taking it head on. I’m not afraid of it. I welcome it. This is more than just for a gold medal. This is for my life.”

She’s undergoing intense physical therapy, from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, and posting updates on social media. She said she wouldn’t have use of her hands if her accident was a few vertebrae higher.

“It’s a setback, that’s all it is,” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “And then we’re going to rock and roll.”

Of the accident, Van Dyken-Rouen said she remembers eating trout earlier that day.

“I remember getting up from my seat,” she said, “And that’s where it ends.”

Van Dyken-Rouen said her husband has gone days without sleeping and eating.

“I went over it 1,000 times in my head,” Tom said of the accident. “She took off, and then I turned. One second, and she was over. It’s a tough thing to get out of your mind. She wasn’t moving. She wasn’t breathing.

“One of the things that I told her was if she wanted, if all this was too much and she wanted to go, she could go. I would understand.”

Van Dyken-Rouen took that as a challenge, a reminder of her swimming career. She won four gold medals at the 1996 Olympics and two more in 2000.

Her parents, who witnessed those Olympic races firsthand, were in the recovery room when she woke up from surgery and have been with her every day in rehab, according to TODAY.

“Dad, now I can race you in our wheelchairs,” Van Dyken-Rouen joked.

Very pregnant Alysia Montano runs at U.S. Championships

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
Getty Images
Leave a comment

A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: What to watch every day of PyeongChang Olympics

USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: What to watch every day of PyeongChang Olympics