Chen Ruolin
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Chen Roulin could stand alone in Olympic diving history after Rio 2016

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China’s Chen Ruolin could finish the Rio Olympics with an unmatched diving record, and she could continue on to Tokyo 2020, but her platform prowess is in doubt after this past season.

Chen has entered four career Olympic events and won all of them. She took gold in the platform and synchronized platform at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, debuting at the Olympics as a 15-year-old.

Chen, now 22, lit the cauldron at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, in August 2014, but she suffered a setback this year.

Chen underperformed at the Chinese diving trials and did not make the World Championships team in the individual platform, where she had taken gold or silver at the previous four Worlds dating to 2007.

At Worlds, North Korean Kim Kuk-hyang came away with the platform title, followed by Chen’s countrywoman Ren Qian, who is 14, and Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong for an unusual all-Asian podium. North Korea owns zero Olympic diving medals.

Chen still competed, taking her fourth straight World title in the synchro platform.

If Chen can make her third Olympic team next year, she will go to Rio looking to break the record for most career Olympic diving gold medals.

She shares it with retired Americans Greg Louganis and Pat McCormick and retired Chinese Guo Jingjing and Fu Mingxia and an active teammate, Wu Minxia. Of those divers, only McCormick joined Chen in going undefeated at the Olympics, sweeping the individual platform and springboard in 1952 and 1956.

Wu, a three-time Olympian on the springboard and seven years older than Chen, also competed only in synchro at Worlds in July, earning gold.

Chen said at Worlds in Kazan, Russia, that she has no interest in the springboard, which platform divers have been known to switch to late in their careers.

Chen, who was raised by grandparents, started diving at age 4 and has shied away from talk of being China’s next great diver, also wouldn’t say if Rio would be her last Olympic run.

As for the best divers of all time, Chen named Guo and Wu as role models.

Chen said a fifth Olympic gold medal would be a highlight — but not necessarily the end — of one of the greatest diving careers, perhaps the greatest ever.

NBC Olympics researcher Amanda Doyle contributed to this report.

MORE DIVING: Men’s platform sets up for more drama in Rio

Emily Sweeney posts fastest time in qualifier for luge World Cup opener

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World championship bronze medalist Emily Sweeney placed first in the Nations Cup luge race Friday in Innsbruck, Austria, qualifying with ease for the first World Cup event of the season.

Twelve women, including fellow American Summer Britcher, were seeded directly into the World Cup race. Sweeney, Brittney Arndt and Ashley Farquharson all qualified from the Nations Cup race. Britcher has finished third in the overall World Cup standings for two straight years and is a contender in a wide-open year with seven-time defending champion Natalie Geisenberger taking a year off while pregnant.

MORE: Geisenberg will not race in 2019-20

In the men’s competition, Jonny Gustafson and Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer finished third and fifth in the Nations Cup race to advance. Tucker West claimed the second-to-last qualifying spot to get all three U.S. sliders in Sunday’s World Cup race.

Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman qualified for the doubles competition, ensuring all eight U.S. sliders will see the weekend races.

OlympicChannel.com will have live streaming this weekend (all times ET):

  • Women: Saturday, 4:15 a.m. and 5:40 a.m.
  • Doubles: Saturday, 7:05 a.m. and 8:25 a.m.
  • Men: Sunday, 4 a.m. and 5:35 a.m.
  • Team relay: Sunday, 7:40 a.m.

Highlights will be on television at the following times:

  • Saturday: Olympic Channel, 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Olympic Channel, 5:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: NBCSN, 4:30 p.m.

Next weekend, the World Cup series heads to Lake Placid, N.Y.

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Russian track and field federation faces expulsion threat over new doping allegations

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MOSCOW (AP) — The governing body for track and field will consider expelling Russia from membership following new charges that senior officials faked medical records.

Russia has been suspended by World Athletics, formerly known as the IAAF, over widespread doping since 2015. There will be a review of whether vetted Russians should still be allowed to compete in international events as neutrals.

“We need to deal with renegade factions like this,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said Friday in Monaco.

World Athletics has frozen talks about lifting the long-running suspension and asked its Russia task force for recommendations on expelling the country’s track federation.

“It’s not symbolic,” said Coe, who said the charges and suspensions against Russian officials were so wide-ranging that they left the task force with almost no one left to talk to.

One route could be to close the Russian track federation and set up a new national governing body. Russia’s sports minister said he had referred the federation to a commission which oversees such matters.

Federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin and four other senior officials are accused of obstructing the investigation into 2017 world championship silver medalist Danil Lysenko, who was accused last year of failing to make himself available for drug testing.

Lysenko allegedly provided fake medical documents as an alibi with help from the officials. He and his coach have also been suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit pending full disciplinary hearings.

Also Friday, the three-time world high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene assailed Russian track leaders after they were charged Thursday, saying they have made a “doping nightmare” even worse.

Lasitskene called for swift and radical reforms, and the removal of officials appointed by Shlyakhtin.

Shlyakhtin took office shortly after the federation was suspended from international competition for widespread doping. The suspension remains in place four years later.

“The new team, whose task was to take us out of this doping nightmare, has turned out no better than the old one. And in some ways worse,” Lasitskene wrote on Instagram. “Shlyakhtin and his team must quit their posts immediately and never come back. And I will make sure this happens.”

Lasitskene has won two of her three world titles as a neutral athlete as a result of Russia’s suspension, which also caused her to miss the 2016 Olympics.

“Our track and field is in its death throes and we can’t procrastinate anymore,” she wrote. “We’ve lost four years already. Clean athletes are still defenseless and not sure they’ll be able to compete tomorrow.”

Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov expressed concern about the “emergency situation” and referred the federation to a ministry commission which could officially withdraw its government recognition.

“The future fate of the track and field federation will be examined,” Kolobkov said Friday in a video statement. “For us now, the main thing is that the training process isn’t interrupted. That means all of the athletes will get the help they need to continue the training and competition process.”

Earlier, the Kremlin said the charges against Shlyakhtin and others won’t derail the country’s preparations to compete in next year’s Olympics.

“Undoubtedly, this (situation) requires attention from the sports authorities, and I’m sure they’re dealing with it,” said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “But I don’t see a direct connection with Russia’s participation in the Olympics here.”

With Shlyakhtin suspended, the federation is set to select an interim president at a board meeting on Saturday.

Russia is also facing a World Anti-Doping Agency ruling next month on whether it manipulated data from a lab in Moscow.

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