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Tonya Harding gets ovation at ‘I, Tonya’ premiere (video)

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Disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding received an ovation after the premiere of “I, Tonya,” a dark comedy film about her life, on Tuesday night.

“I am specially excited that she got to watch it all with you,” actress Margot Robbie, who plays the film’s title role, said on stage. “Let’s give a round of applause to the woman at the center of this story, Tonya Harding.”

Harding then came on stage and received a hug from the Australian actress. Video is here.

Harding also posed for red-carpet photos at the Los Angeles premiere — it hits theaters Friday — with Robbie.

The Australian actress previously said she met Harding and that the skater was complimentary of the film and Robbie’s skating.

“I wanted there to be a clear distinction between the ‘real’ Tonya and the one I would be playing,” Robbie said, according to W Magazine. “I didn’t want to sugarcoat her. … The more I became Tonya, the more I saw things from her point of view. I’m on her side 100 percent. I don’t think she did anything but be different from what the world wanted. There are cool misfits, and then there is Tonya. She didn’t fit in. And I love that.”

The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

Harding, 47, was actually skating in October after losing weight, according to People magazine, citing an unnamed friend in People magazine.

On Jan. 6, 1994, Olympic teammate Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed on the right leg by a hitman hired by Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, in Detroit, where she was preparing for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Kerrigan’s bruised right knee kept her from competing at nationals, but she recovered in time for the Lillehammer 1994 Olympics. Harding won the U.S. Championship in her absence, so both went to the Olympics.

Tonya and Nancy became a media soap opera in Lillehammer with Super Bowl-like TV ratings. Kerrigan won silver, just behind Ukrainian Oksana Baiul. Harding broke a skate lace in her long program, reskated and finished eighth.

Four months later, Harding was banned for life by U.S. Figure Skating, which concluded that she had prior knowledge of the attack.

Robbie, who co-produced the film, said she thought the saga was fiction before signing up for the movie.

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Tonya Harding, left, and Margot Robbie arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of “I, Tonya” at the Egyptian Theatre on Tuesday. (AP)

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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