Paralympic champ to cover Olympic rings tattoo, hopes rule changes

Rudy Garcia-Tolson
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At age 15, Rudy Garcia-Tolson had a deal with his mom. If he qualified for the Athens 2004 Games, he could get a tattoo of the Olympic rings.

Garcia-Tolson made it to Greece and even earned a 200m individual medley swimming gold medal. He inked the rings, in color, on the back of his left shoulder.

And if Garcia-Tolson competes at his fourth straight Paralympics in September, he is ready to tape over the tattoo to keep from being disqualified in Rio.

A rule not allowing body advertisements that has started to be fully enforced in recent years made headlines two weeks ago, when a British Paralympic swimmer was disqualified from a European Championships race for not covering up his Olympic rings tattoo.

It has led to explanations clarifying that the Olympics and Paralympics are two very separate events.

“I fully feel like I’m an Olympian,” Garcia-Tolson said last week at an event for one of his sponsors, Citi, in New York.

Technically, Garcia-Tolson is not an Olympian. He is a Paralympian. Garcia-Tolson’s Twitter bio lists the word “Olympic” three times  and “Paralympic” zero times.

An International Paralympic Committee swimming rule states, “body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols).”

“I don’t really agree with it, but it’s the rules, so we’re just going to have to go with it,” Garcia-Tolson said as the famous “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” music played in the auditorium following his presentation with three-time Olympic beach volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings. “I’m going to follow the rules. I don’t want to put all this hard work in and then get disqualified for something I have on my body.”

If people attend the Paralympics, which are held weeks after the Olympics at the same venues, they will very often see the Paralympic Agitos logo where the Olympic logo once appeared.

It is visual proof that the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee are separate entities.

“This rule is in place because the IPC wants Paralympic athletes to show pride in promoting the Paralympic Movement, including its symbol the Agitos,” an IPC spokesman said in an email. “Displaying the Olympic rings confuses the public and impacts the understanding about the Paralympic brand which is different to that of the Olympic one.”

The rule was first in place for all sports at the London 2012 Paralympics, but it wasn’t strictly enforced, according to the International Paralympic Committee.

In London, Garcia-Tolson said he covered up his Olympic rings tattoo with marker, but by the time he jumped into the pool to try and win his third straight 200m IM title, it had worn off. The Olympic rings were clearly visible, but he wasn’t disqualified and kept his silver medal.

“That was kind of unintentional, but at the same time I feel like that’s who I am,” Garcia-Tolson said.

Garcia-Tolson said he’s considered getting a tattoo of the Paralympic Agitos symbol, but the Paralympic logo has changed at least twice during his life.

On his team of Paralympians, Garcia-Tolson said the standard rule is, if you earn a gold medal, a reward is to get the Olympic rings tattoo.

“We feel like we should be treated no differently than our Olympic teammates,” he said. “The title, the names, to me it’s just kind of unimportant. Who’s to say in 20 years we don’t have the same logo [as the Olympics].”

Garcia-Tolson has no problem adhering to the rule and emphasized he embraces the Paralympic movement.

“The world needs motivation right now,” Garcia-Tolson said. “It needs to be inspired. I think that’s where the Paralympics comes in.”

But, he added, rules are meant to be changed.

“I’m sure this one will be changed here in the next few Games or so,” he said.

MORE: Rio Paralympic torch unveiled

Ukraine Olympic champion auctions gold medals to support his country

Yuriy Cheban
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Sprint canoeist Yuriy Cheban, Ukraine’s most decorated male Olympian, is auctioning his two gold medals and one bronze medal to support his country’s defense and recovery efforts amid the war with Russia.

“It was one of the best moments of my life that can be compared only with the birth of my child,” Cheban posted specifically about his repeat 200m gold at his last Olympics in Rio in 2016. “This Olympic finish left a great memory forever in the world history and in the hearts of Ukraine.

“Time to move on, I would like these medals to benefit Ukrainians once again.”

Cheban, a 36-year-old who coached Ukraine canoeists at the Tokyo Games, took 500m bronze in 2008 before his 200m golds in 2012 and 2016, all in individual races.

He and boxer Vasiliy Lomachenko are the only men to win two Olympic gold medals for Ukraine, which began competing independently in 1994. Cheban is the only man to win three total Olympic medals for Ukraine, according to Olympedia.org.

Swimmer Yana Klochkova won the most medals for Ukraine — four golds and five total.

All proceeds from the sales will go to Ukraine’s Olympic Circle charity, according to SCP Auctions.

Olympic Circle was created by sportsmen to help Mykolaiv, a city in southern Ukraine, fight Russian occupants, according to SCP.

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Alpine skiing TV, live stream schedule for 2022-23 World Cup season

Mikaela Shiffrin, Marco Odermatt
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NBC Sports and Peacock combine to air live coverage of the 2022-23 Alpine skiing season, including races on the World Cup, which starts this weekend.

Coverage begins with the traditional season-opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria, this Saturday and Sunday, streaming live on Peacock.

The first of four stops in the U.S. — the most in 26 years — is Thanksgiving weekend with a women’s giant slalom and slalom in Killington, Vermont. The men’s tour visits Beaver Creek, Colorado the following week, as well as Palisades Tahoe, California, and Aspen, Colorado after worlds in Courchevel and Meribel, France.

NBC Sports platforms will broadcast all four U.S. stops in the Alpine World Cup season, plus four more World Cups in other ski and snowboard disciplines. All Alpine World Cups in Austria will stream live on Peacock.

Mikaela Shiffrin, who last year won her fourth World Cup overall title, is the headliner. Shiffrin, who has 74 career World Cup race victories, will try to close the gap on the only Alpine skiers with more: Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86). Shiffrin won an average of five times per season the last three years and is hopeful of racing more often this season.

On the men’s side, 25-year-old Swiss Marco Odermatt returns after becoming the youngest man to win the overall, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, since Marcel Hirscher won the second of his record eight in a row in 2013.

2022-23 Alpine Skiing World Cup Broadcast Schedule
Schedule will be added to as the season progresses. All NBC Sports TV coverage also streams live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Date Coverage Network/Platform Time (ET)
Sat., Oct. 22 Women’s GS (Run 1) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 7:05 a.m.
Sun., Oct. 23 Men’s GS (Run 1) — Soelden Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden Peacock 7 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 12 Women’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 6 a.m.
Women’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 12 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 13 Men’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 10 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 19 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7 a.m.
Sun., Nov. 20 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4:15 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7:15 a.m.
Fri., Nov. 25 Men’s DH — Lake Louise (PPD) Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 26 Women’s GS (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 27 Women’s SL (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:15 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 2 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 3 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek CNBC, Peacock 4 p.m.*
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*
Sun., Dec. 4 Women’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 1 p.m.
Men’s SG — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*

*Delayed broadcast.

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