Pioneering women’s boxer Nicola Adams retires due to eye concern

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British boxer Nicola Adams, the first athlete to win a gold medal in Olympic women’s boxing, announced her retirement Wednesday in an open letter to the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“I’m immensely honoured to have represented our country – to win double Olympic gold medals and then the WBO championship belt is a dream come true,” Adams wrote. “But it’s not without taking its toll on my body, and aside from the expected aches and pains I’ve been advised that any further impact to my eye would most likely lead to irreparable damage and permanent vision loss.”

Adams took up women’s boxing in an era in which opponents were hard to find. She was in her mid-20s by the time meaningful European and world competition emerged. By 2011, she was the top flyweight in Europe and a two-time world championship silver medalist.

In 2012, the first-ever Olympic competition, taking place in her home country, was stacked. Her semifinal opponent was Indian legend Mary Kom, who had won five world championships at a slightly lower weight class. Adams had beaten her at the previous world championship and did so again, winning a comfortable 11-6 decision under the points system used at the time. She then knocked down three-time world champion Ren Cancan of China in a dominant 16-7 win to take gold.

In 2016, she won her only world championship and then repeated as Olympic champion, beating Ren again in the semifinals and defeating France’s Sarah Ourahmoune in the final.

Her plaudits in her home country went well beyond the ring. In 2012, The Independent named her the most influential LGBT person in Britain. She was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 2013 and elevated to OBE (Officer) in 2016.

She turned professional for a brief but successful career, winning her first five fights and claiming the interim WBO flyweight title before taking a draw in what would be her final fight in September against Mexico’s Maria Salinas.

“Hanging up my gloves was always going to (be) hard, but I have never felt luckier,” Adams wrote. “And I’m so immensely proud of how far the sport has come.”

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”