South Korea short track star reportedly bids to skate for China at Beijing Olympics

Lim Hyo-Jun
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Lim Hyo-Jun, the world’s top short track speed skater when he was banned one year for allegedly pantsing a male teammate in front of female skaters in 2019, has been in the process of changing his nationality to China to compete in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, according to media in his native South Korea.

Lim, who earned South Korea’s first gold medal of the PyeongChang Olympics in the 1500m, completed a Chinese naturalization process and left for that country to train with the Chinese program, according to South Korean media citing Lim’s agency.

The news of the 24-year-old Lim’s one-year suspension came in August 2019, but the case has reached a supreme court in South Korea. If Lim is not cleared, it’s possible his suspension could restart and rule him out of next year’s Olympics, should he remain a South Korean, according to reports.

“As the legal battle dragged on, it has become difficult for Lim to represent South Korea and try to win his second straight Olympic gold medal in Beijing,” Lim’s agency said, according to a Yonhap News Agency translation. “He hasn’t been able to train anywhere in Korea for the past two years. He just wanted to find ways to put his skates back on.”

Lim’s case is reminiscent (though slightly different than that) of Viktor Ahn, who won three golds for South Korea at the 2006 Olympics as Ahn-Hyun Soo.

Ahn missed South Korea’s team for the 2010 Olympics after undergoing four knee surgeries in the 15 months leading up to the Olympic Trials. Ahn’s club team dissolved, and his father contacted Russia’s federation. He became a citizen in 2011, then earned three golds among four medals for Russia at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Ahn, now retired, was announced as a coach of China’s short track program last year.

South Korea’s skating federation doled out Lim’s 2019 ban for sexual harassment after reviewing video of the incident and speaking with Lim and the unnamed teammate, according to media at the time.

Lim, who was dubbed a “virtual unknown” upon winning South Korea’s 2018 Olympic Trials, followed his PyeongChang gold by winning world titles in the overall, 1000m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m relay in 2019.

The 2020 World Championships and the entire 2020-21 World Cup season were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This season’s world championships are happening this weekend in the Netherlands. South Korea and China, the two most successful short track nations in Olympic history, did not send teams to the event.

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Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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