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