Getty Images

John-Henry Krueger, Olympic short track medalist, eyes Hungary

Leave a comment

John-Henry Krueger, who earned the U.S.’ lone short track medal in PyeongChang, wants to compete for Hungary.

U.S. Speedskating confirmed USA Today report that the Olympic 1000m silver medalist seeks Hungarian citizenship.

“I was and am still proud to have represented the United States during my career but have been faced with an unsustainable situation where if I continue pursuing my career with the US team I will bankrupt myself and my family,” Krueger said in an email, according to the newspaper. “Overall the financial costs necessary for me to perform competitively at the international level are unsustainable with the lack of sufficient financial support from US Speedskating and the [United States Olympic Committee].”

Krueger has not responded to a request for comment, but his representative said U.S. Speedskating is committed to grant Krueger’s request to be released to compete for Hungary.

“Today John-Henry accepted the Hungarian’s offer to represent Hungary,” was posted on Krueger’s mom’s Facebook account, according to the newspaper. “Be clear JH did not leave his country, but is leaving the federation that callously abandoned him on so many fronts long ago and then refused to thoughtfully consider any of JH’s concerns, opinions, and requirements.”

Krueger would join older brother Cole with the Hungarian program if released by U.S. Speedskating. Cole switched from the U.S. to Hungary after the 2015-16 season, but he had to take the 2016-17 season off from competition after being released by U.S. Speedskating.

The Kruegers had disputes with U.S. Speedskating since at least 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal. Cole moved to Hungary, which he said was the country of his ancestry, in part because of that program’s coaching staff.

“I don’t have problems with the U.S. coaches, but the skill level hasn’t been what I think was necessary,” Cole said, according to the newspaper in a March 2017 article. “No one would trade for the U.S. coaches.”

Cole was not chosen for Hungary’s Olympic team.

John-Henry, who lived and trained in South Korea and the Netherlands in recent years, swept all three distances at December’s U.S. Olympic Trials and was considered an outside medal hope going into his first Olympics.

His silver in the 1000m was the first individual U.S. Olympic medal in short- or long-track speed skating since 2010.

John-Henry joined about 200 members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams last Friday at the White House, where he was one of about a dozen athletes congratulated by name by President Donald Trump.

Krueger could become the fourth U.S. Winter Olympian to later compete for a different country at a Winter Games, after fellow short track skater Anthony Lobello, who competed for the U.S. in 2006 and Italy in 2014, Alpine skier Sarah Schleper, an American from 1998-2010 and Mexican in 2018 and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, a bobsledder for the U.S. in 2014 and Jamaica in 2018, according to the OlyMADMen.

Three other athletes competed for other countries at the Winter Olympics, then later became U.S. Winter Olympians (figure skater Rena Inoue and lugers Clay Ives and Bengt Walden).

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this post left out Schleper and Fenlator-Victorian as the second and third athletes to compete for the U.S. in a Winter Olympics, then a different nation in a later Olympics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Best short track moments from PyeongChang

[twitter-follow screen_name=’nzaccardi’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]

Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Israel baseball turned to Shlomo Lipetz for the biggest out in program history

[twitter-follow screen_name=’nzaccardi’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]

Russia boxers to boycott Olympics if sanctions not lifted

Getty Images
2 Comments

Russian boxers will only take part in the Tokyo Olympics if doping sanctions forcing them to compete as neutral athletes are overturned, the general secretary of the Russian Boxing Federation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Umar Kremlev said he has spoken with the Olympic boxing team and they “unanimously” rejected the conditions laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency as punishment for manipulating doping data.

The WADA sanctions, announced on Monday, ban the use of the Russian team name, flag or anthem at a range of major sports competitions over the next four years, including next year’s Olympics.

“They said we won’t go without our flag and anthem,” Kremlev said. “We aren’t going for medals, but for that feeling that I brought the highest honor home for my country.”

Separately, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament said Russia could create an alternative to the Olympics.

“This ruling show the clear crisis in international sports institutions. I believe that Russia could host its own games at home,” Valentina Matvienko said in comments reported by the Interfax news agency.

There is a precedent. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union refused to compete in the Olympics and hosted its own Spartakiads — named after the ancient rebel slave Spartacus — with a strong socialist slant. However, the Soviet Union began competing at the Olympics in 1952 and Russians generally take great pride in the country’s Olympic achievements since then.

If the sanctions aren’t overturned, Kremlev said Russian boxers would prefer to turn pro rather than compete at the Olympics.

“A world champion (in professional boxing) is better known than an Olympic champion,” Kremlev said, adding the Russian anthem would be played before pro title fights.

Kremlev said boxers are being asked to shoulder the blame for offenses committed in other sports. He said they would still stay at home even if Russia’s athletes in other sports decided to take part.

“If other sports are guilty and people have breached the WADA code, why are we punished?” he said. “We are for honest sport and against doping. We want our sport to be clean … If someone breaks the rules, we push them out.”

Russia is a major power in amateur and Olympic boxing. It hosted both men’s and women’s world championships this year, finishing at the top of the medals table at the women’s event and second in the men’s championships. The International Olympic Committee has taken direct charge of boxing at the Tokyo Olympics after criticizing chronic financial problems and infighting at the International Boxing Association.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov talked up Russia’s chances of overturning the WADA sanctions.

“I think that there is every basis to appeal the decision, because our experts have presented their position, and they have the same database as WADA does,” Kolobkov said in comments reported by state news agency TASS. “There is an answer to every question and the whole process is ahead of us.”

The official decision on whether to dispute the sanctions will be made on Dec. 19 by the Russian anti-doping agency’s supervisory board, but senior figures, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have signaled their preference for taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: IOC strips Olympic status from boxing body AIBA

[twitter-follow screen_name=’nbcolympictalk’ show_count=’yes’ text_color=’00ccff’]