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Russia out of wrestling world cup due to visa issues

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Russia will not compete at next weekend’s men’s freestyle wrestling world cup in Iowa City after the U.S. embassy in Moscow was unable to expedite visa interviews, USA Wrestling said Friday.

Earlier this week, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of trying to bar Russian wrestlers and claimed the U.S. was unfit to host international sports events.

The Russian Wrestling Federation made a late visa request that could not be filled, according to the embassy via USA Wrestling.

“Due to the staffing reduction forced on the U.S. Mission in Russia by the Russian Federation, there is very limited appointment availability for visa interviews at this time,” the consular section of the embassy said in response to Iowa Senator Charles E. Grassley, according to USA Wrestling. “In the current situation, the embassy is not able to provide expedited appointments for sporting events.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an earlier statement that the alleged visa refusal was “direct and open discrimination,” adding that “it’s clearly impossible to hold international competitions on American territory any more — they don’t play fair.”

Turkey previously backed out of the meet, as did its replacement, Iran. Russia, Iran and Turkey combined to win four of the six Olympic men’s freestyle titles in Rio. Iran won the men’s freestyle world cup the last six years. Russia was runner-up three of the last five years.

India and Mongolia are the new replacements for the annual eight-team event.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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USA Track and Field to honor 1968 Olympic team on 50th anniversary

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USA Track and Field begins a campaign this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympic team.

Members of the Mexico City Games team, one of the greatest track and field teams in history, will be honored at high-profile events the remainder of the year.

The campaign, “1968-2018: Celebrating Athletic Achievement and Courage,” culminates with a “Night of Legends” reunion in December at the USATF Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, also attended by current U.S. stars.

The 1968 Olympic team is most remembered for Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who took gold and bronze in the 200m and were sent home after raising their black-gloved fists in a human rights salute during the national anthem.

The team also included gold medalists Bob Beamon (long jump), Dick Fosbury (high jump), Al Oerter (discus), Wyomia Tyus and Jim Hines (100m), Lee Evans (400m), Madeline Manning Mims (800m), Willie Davenport (110m hurdles), Bob Seagren (pole vault), Randy Matson (shot put), Bill Toomey (decathlon) and the men’s and women’s 4x100m and men’s 4x400m.

“The legacy of the greatest track & field team to ever be assembled is still felt 50 years later,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said in a press release. “These Olympians persevered through athletic challenges and social injustices, maintaining their composure and dignity when others may have fallen. It is USATF’s honor to pay homage to their achievements and bring the team together for an epic celebration at our Annual Meeting.”

U.S. track and field athletes will compete at two meets on NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold this weekend — the Drake Relays and Penn Relays.

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Paralyzed man walks London Marathon in 36 hours in exoskeleton

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A paralyzed man walked the London Marathon route wearing an exoskeleton suit, finishing around 11 p.m. Monday, nearly 36 hours after he started, according to British media.

Simon Kindleysides was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in April 2013 and was paralyzed from the waist down, he said on the BBC before the race.

“I want to be a role model to my children so they can say their daddy’s been the first paralyzed man to walk the London Marathon ever,” said Kindleysides, a 34-year-old father of three, according to the report.

Kindleysides predicted he would finish in 37 hours, completing the first half of the 26.2-mile race on Sunday, then sleeping a few hours and walking the final 13.1 miles on Monday. Kindleysides said after finishing that he spent 26.5 of those 36 hours walking the marathon.

“Painful, emotional to walk that far in 26.5 hours,” he said. “It feels amazing. So glad I’ve done it. I’m here proving a point, anything is possible.”

Kindleysides said he handcycled from London to Paris for charity two years ago.

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