Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey: I could still win gold, but Olympic chapter is closed

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UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey believes she could still win Olympic gold.

Rousey, a 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, is 11-0 in four years as a professional mixed martial arts fighter, boosted no doubt by her two Olympics’ worth of elite international judo experience.

The 28-year-old has no wish to return to Olympic judo, but if she did devote an Olympic cycle (a few years) to the sport, she is confident she would master it again.

“I still believe I would be able to win the Olympics,” Rousey, who appeared to have the Olympic rings tattooed on her pelvis and, along with the Olympic motto “citius altius fortius,” above her right ankle, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “That takes 100 percent of your energy. It has to be the No. 1 priority in your life.”

Rousey decided after the Beijing 2008 Olympics that she could no longer devote 100 percent of her energy to judo. Starting an MMA career did not sit well with her judo coach, two-time Olympic bronze medalist Jimmy Pedro.

“He pretty much told me to go [bleep] myself,” Rousey said in 2013, according to USA Today. “He didn’t want to help me.”

Rousey said Tuesday that she and Pedro haven’t spoken much since.

“He just became one of those disbelievers that I had to prove wrong,” said Rousey, who also said she’s never spoken with Michael Phelps, the 22-time Olympic medalist swimmer whom she criticized in this 2012 video.

By 2011, Rousey became a professional MMA fighter. By 2012, she won a Strikeforce bantamweight championship.

She said that’s about when she gave up judo altogether, as she had been teaching classes twice a week at Dynamix MMA in southern California for supplemental income along with working graveyard shifts at 24 Hour Fitness and as a veterinary assistant.

Much was made of Rousey’s win over Cat Zingano on Feb. 28 in a UFC Championship-record 14 seconds. But Rousey said she once beat a judoka in just four seconds at the 2004 World Junior Championships final in Budapest, Hungary. Sure enough, there’s video.

At that time, the Olympics were very much the priority. Rousey even named her cat “Beijing” in reference to the 2008 Olympic host city, before she made the Athens 2004 team at age 17, when she was eliminated from the Games early on.

Rousey said her sister Jennifer has Beijing now, while Rousey owns an ex-roommate’s abandoned cat and her Dogo Argentino, Mochi.

“I still get to visit [Beijing]; I get visitation rights,” she joked.

Rousey says the Olympic chapter of her life “has been closed, written and passed,” but she wouldn’t mind a trip to Rio de Janeiro next summer.

“I have always wanted to go as a spectator,” she said.

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Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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