Getty Images

Jordan Burroughs reacts to Iran barring U.S. wrestlers

3 Comments

Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs felt a number of emotions when he learned Friday morning that the U.S. wrestling team has been barred by Iran from competing at a meet there in two weeks.

Iran’s announcement came in response to President Donald Trump‘s executive order forbidding visas for Iranians.

“Bummed, first and foremost,” Burroughs, whose last meet was the Rio Olympics, said by phone Friday morning. “I just wanted to compete. It’s been a while since I competed. I was excited to return to the mat. This was going to be a prestigious event that I got to do with my team members.”

Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio after gold in London, still believed on Thursday that the U.S. would be sending a team to the Freestyle World Cup in Kermanshah, Iran, from Feb. 16-17.

U.S. coach Bill Zadick told him on Thursday that everything was going according to plan. Flights were booked. Singlets were made. Burroughs was scheduled to travel Wednesday.

“Not only is this costly in terms of our training and competition schedule, but this is expensive,” Burroughs said. “This is an expensive lesson learned to buy 20 tickets to Iran, have them revoked and probably no reimbursement.”

Burroughs looked forward to competing in Iran, where wrestling is a national sport. Iran earned a combined 11 wrestling medals at the last two Olympics, its most of any sport, despite entering zero women’s wrestlers.

“There is such a common respect for wrestlers in Iran,” Burroughs said. “They love wrestling. They’re huge fans of mine. I’m bummed about that. I really wanted to be part of something great in what I consider a great country. Obviously, my views and our country’s views are different.”

The U.S. has sent wrestlers to meets in Iran a total of 15 times since 1998, with Burroughs part of the contingent at the 2013 Freestyle World Cup in Tehran.

“No one out there — Donald Trump or the prime minister of Iran — is purposely slighting the U.S. wrestling team,” Burroughs said. “This is a much bigger picture and a much bigger story than our wrestling tournaments, but I’m bummed because I think this was a great opportunity for us to show goodwill toward them by coming into a country where our governments may have opposed each other.”

MORE: High school gym named after Burroughs

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