John Orozco: I don’t want to end my career on a low note

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Two months ago, John Orozco said that if USA Gymnastics cleared him to perform on its post-Olympic tour, it “will most likely be my last showing of my gymnastics career.”

Orozco did join the tour in October for its final run of cities, ending Sunday, following withdrawing from the Olympic team in July after tearing his left ACL for a second time.

Now that the post-Olympic tour is finished, Orozco says he’s not sure he’s done after all. He would like to return to competition, according to USA Gymnastics.

“It’s a big question mark,” Orozco said, according to the national governing body. “I feel like I don’t want to end my career on a low note.

“I want to see what happens when I get back to 100 percent healthy and see how I feel about competing then. It’s easier to make a decision when I’m fully healthy.”

Orozco, 23, came back from a tragic 2015, the loss of his mother and a potentially career-ending injury, to make his second Olympic team on June 25. Tears streamed in his first interview after being named to the five-man Rio squad.

Orozco went into the Olympic Trials in a precarious position, after placing 10th in the all-around at the P&G Championships three weeks earlier.

Orozco delivered on his best events at Trials — high bar and parallel bars — and was sturdy enough on pommel horse to earn a Rio berth.

But on July 15, Orozco tore his left ACL, just as he did in October 2012. He was replaced on the Olympic team by Danell Leyva.

Orozco has since undergone two surgeries, according to his social media.

Leyva, a three-time Olympic medalist, said he will focus on an acting career in California but isn’t ruling out a gymnastics return. The other four members of the U.S. men’s team that finished fifth at a second straight Olympics — Sam Mikulak, Jacob Dalton, Alex Naddour and Chris Brooks — said they hope to continue to compete, according to USA Gymnastics.

MORE: Simone Biles recalls being placed in foster care in book excerpt

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I'm beyond devastated to say that my road to Rio has come to an abrupt end. Last week during Olympic Team camp, I re-tore my ACL/meniscus. At this point of my life I'm reminded of one word that I learned from my favorite book (The Alchemist) "Maktub" which in Arabic means "It is written" (meant to be) and like the common theme of the book I truly believe the universe conspires to guide us to our destiny with what we perceive as coincidences, signs, and omens. It's clear to me now more than ever that my dreams of Olympic gold were never meant to be, but maybe I have a different purpose that has yet to reveal itself? I'm forever grateful for the opportunities gymnastics has given me in life, the amazing people I've met through my career in the sport, and the life lessons I've learned. I'm humbled by the unwavering love and support of my family, friends, coaches, USA medical staff, personal doctors, and fans. Tragedy seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life, but looking back on my career I wouldn't change a single thing.

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Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

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Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.

Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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