Nick Kyrgios won’t go to Rio, cites verbal attacks by Australia Olympic officials

Nick Kyrgios
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Australian Nick Kyrgios is the sixth men’s tennis player ranked in the world top 23 to say he will not compete in the Rio Olympics, citing issues with the Australian Olympic Committee.

“Playing in the Olympics was a goal this year; I planned my tournament schedule around Rio and made sure to fulfil my Olympic eligibility,” Kyrgios said in a statement on his website. “Unfortunately, while I have expressed every intention of trying to win a medal for my country in Rio, it’s very clear to me that the Australian Olympic Committee [AOC] has other plans.”

Last month, Australian Olympic chef de mission Kitty Chiller urged Kyrgios and the No. 2 Australian, Bernard Tomic, to improve their behavior if they hoped to be named to the Olympic team.

Tomic then withdrew from Olympic consideration. Kyrgios has now joined him after being eliminated in the third round of the French Open last week.

“AOC’s unfair and unjust treatment of me over the last four weeks, as well as the organization’s crystal clear position on whether they want me to be a part of the Australian Olympic team, has solidified my final decision,” Kyrgios said in Thursday’s statement. “While I have received assurances from Tennis Australia that I will be nominated for the Olympic team, the AOC has chosen to publicly and privately disparage me.”

Men’s tennis players skipping Rio:

No. 15 Dominic Thiem (Austria)
No. 17 John Isner (USA)
No. 19 Nick Kyrgios (Australia)
No. 20 Kevin Anderson (South Africa)
No. 22 Bernard Tomic (Australia)
No. 23 Feliciano Lopez (Spain)

“The AOC’s unwarranted attacks on me demonstrate the organization’s inability to understand the circumstances surrounding highly competitive sports,” Kyrgios said in his statement. “I also don’t want the AOC’s treatment of me to become a distraction and negatively affect the Australian Olympic team.”

Kyrgios said in the penultimate sentence of his statement that he hopes to be on the 2020 Australia Olympic team.

MORE: Like golf, tennis’ return to Olympics in 1988 faced skeptics

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”