Atlanta wrestling champ returns gold to IOC

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Bulgarian wrestling federation president Valentin Yordanov sacrificed his Atlanta gold medal in the name of his sport Wednesday, and returned it to the IOC after its executive board recommended dropping wrestling from the Games.

“As a sign of protest I am returning my gold medal, won at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne,” the seven-time world champ wrote in a letter IOC President Jacques Rogge, according to Reuters.

“With this act I express my solidarity with the millions of athletes and fans of our sport who are condemning the recommendation of the IOC. Our sport is an integral part of the Olympic movement and one of the foundations of both the ancient and modern Olympics.”

Yordanov retired from the sport after winning the 52kg gold in 1996, one of the nation’s sixteen Olympic titles in wrestling, making it Bulgaria’s most successful sport. Two-time Olympic champ and current Bulgarian Greco-Roman coach Armen Nazarian said he’s considering going on a hunger strike.

But amid all the backlash, Yordanov conceded that the IOC’s decision has actually been good for world politics, adding that Rogge “unreservedly united Russia, the United States, and Iran for a single cause – saving the sport of wrestling, without which the Olympics will never be the same.”

The IOC executive board will meet this May in St. Petersburg to vote on which of the eight prospective sports, including wrestling, squash, karate, wushu, sport climbing, roller sports, wakeboarding, and baseball/softball, will be voted on when all the IOC members meet this September to discuss how to fill a single slot in the 2020 Olympics schedule.

South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun
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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

Brigid Kosgei
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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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