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Equestrian rider Fox-Pitt leads 10 months after fall from horse

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The Rio Olympics are filled with stories of athletes who have managed to overcome various obstacles in order to earn the opportunity to compete on the world’s greatest stage. But in the case of Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt, his trek to Rio was one few expected him to make due to a traumatic accident suffered during the World Young Horse Championships in France last October. Fox-Pitt fell from his horse during the cross country competition, suffering head trauma that led to doctors placing him in an induced coma.

Fox-Pitt faced an arduous rehabilitation process, and few expected him to be able to represent his nation in the Summer Olympics. But Fox-Pitt beat the odds, and through the first day of competition at the equestrian venue he leads the eventing individual dressage competition with a score of 37.00. Despite having to re-learn many of the “basic” physical activities we tend to take for granted Fox-Pit was back in the saddle two months after the injury, and he returned to competition in mid-May.

Fox-Pitt said: “After the accident, I lost a lot of strength as you would imagine.

“I couldn’t pick up my child, I couldn’t walk up the stairs, I couldn’t walk to the stables.

“My body completely deteriorated, I couldn’t drive for six months.

“In the two weeks in which I was unconscious, I lost 12kg. It has been quite the journey.”

Fox-Pitt also had a lot to do in his recovery when it came to his eyesight. There were visits with a specialist to help correct his vision, a key attribute for any athlete to have much less one expected to guide an equine through a course with few mistakes.

Four months of his recovery time included twice weekly visits to Bournemouth eye specialist Dr Shayler to correct his vision.

He said: “I was his project. He had to retrain my eyes to be straight again and be focused not be blurred. In the beginning I had double vision, and I couldn’t see very well.

“It did affect my riding. I could ride on the flat, but jumping was tricky. One fence suddenly became four, and I didn’t know which one we were jumping until the last minute!”

Riding Chilli Morning, Fox-Pitt will look to win his first Olympic medal on Sunday at the equestrian venue.

Federica Brignone hopes World Cup rival Mikaela Shiffrin will return soon

Shiffrin and Brignone
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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s prolonged absence from the World Cup Alpine skiing circuit has opened the door for Italy’s Federica Brignone to break the American’s grip on the season title, but Brignone hopes her friend and rival will be back in competition soon.

“I really do hope that she will return soon for herself so she can do again what she loves most,” Brignone said.

Brignone took the season lead from Shiffrin, who has won the last three World Cup overall titles, on Sunday and has a 73-point advantage with 11 of the season’s 40 races remaining. She also leads Shiffrin by 74 points in the giant slalom standings.

READ: Brignone moves into World Cup lead

No Italian woman has won the overall World Cup. Brignone was fifth in 2017 and won the Alpine combined discipline title last season.

Brignone will have a chance to clinch another Alpine combined discipline title and extend her overall lead in her home country this weekend. While some other sports events in Italy have been canceled or otherwise affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the host resort of La Thuile has so far been spared from the virus’ spread.

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the only other skier with a realistic chance of winning the overall trophy, is dealing with a knee injury and might not be able to race this weekend. Vhlova leads Shiffrin by 20 points in the slalom standings.

Shiffrin has not competed since the death of her father Feb. 2, and she has not announced plans to return. She was not on pace to match her astounding 17-win 2018-19 season but still had six wins and had reached the podium in 13 of 19 races.

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World short-track speedskating championships will be moved, postponed or canceled

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The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the world short-track speedskating championships will not proceed as scheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink, where the competition was set to be held March 13-15, held the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships earlier this month but closed on Monday.

The ISU left open the possibility that the championships will be postponed or relocated, but the window to do so may close rapidly.

“Taking into account the uncertain world-wide development of the coronavirus, the limited and uncertain available time slots during the coming weeks and the logistical challenges of potential organizers and participating teams, a postponement and/or relocation of the Championships would be difficult to achieve,” the ISU said. “Nevertheless, a postponement and/or relocation of this Championships might be considered if the circumstances would allow so in due time.”

South Korea is one of short-track speedskating’s traditional powers. Last year, the country dominated the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning both relays and taking gold in all of the men’s individual races. South Korea also led the medal count on home ice in the 2018 Olympics.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of many events in China, where the illness was first found. The world indoor track and field championships were pushed back a whole year.

With the virus spreading to other regions, other countries’ sports schedules are being affected. Several soccer games are proceeding in empty stadiums in Italy and Iran.

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