Kendall Gretsch becomes just the fifth American to win gold at both summer and winter Paralympics

2020 Tokyo Paralympics - Day 5
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Kendall Gretsch became just the fifth American – and third U.S. woman – to claim gold medals at both the summer and winter Paralympic Games when she won the women’s PTWC race in thrilling fashion Sunday morning in Tokyo.

The 29-year-old Paralympic triathlete beat reigning world champion Lauren Parker at the line, in a time of 1:06:25 to the Australian’s 1:06:26, at her first Summer Paralympics.

Gretsch was sixth after the swim, 3 minutes and 29 seconds back from Parker, but quickly moved up to second on the bike and slowly made up ground the remainder of the race. Still 25 seconds back with the final kilometer of the run remaining, it appeared she would run out of course.

Once Parker was within sight, Gretsch made an exhilarating sprint to the finish and edged Parker at the tape.

Gretsch first made history in her Paralympic debut just three years ago when she won the 6km biathlon race at the Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang, marking the first women’s biathlon medal for the United States at the either the Olympics or Paralympics.

She discovered her primary sport, paratriathlon, during her sophomore year at Washington University. In her first season as an elite competitor, she won the PT1 world title, her first of three straight from 2014-2016.

Triathlon made its Paralympic debut in 2016, but Gretsch’s wheelchair classification was not chosen for the program, so, still determined to compete at the Paralympics, she took up Nordic skiing in 2015.

The Downers Grove, Illinois, native made the national team the following season, then won Paralympic golds in both biathlon and cross-country skiing (12km sitting) in Korea. The next year, Gretsch went six for six at the world championships, earning a gold, four silver and a bronze.

She maintained her triathlon training throughout, taking silver in the PTWC event at the 2019 World Championships for that sport.

Gretsch now joins Alana Nichols (2008 wheelchair basketball, 2010 alpine skiing) and Allison Jones (2006 alpine skiing, 2012 cycling) as the only American women to win gold at both summer and winter Paralympics. Jim Martinson (1980/1984 track and field, 1992 alpine skiing) and David Kiley (1976 track and field, 1976 wheelchair basketball, 1988 wheelchair basketball, 1992 alpine skiing) are the only U.S. men to achieve the feat.

A full Paralympic Games broadcast schedule is available here. Events can also be streamed on and the NBC Sports app, with more info available here.

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Ukraine officials say athletes should not compete in Olympic qualifiers with Russians

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The Ukraine government decided that its athletes should not compete in 2024 Olympic qualifying events if Russians are present, according to several media reports in Ukraine.

“At a meeting of the government, a protocol decision was made on the proposal of colleague (sports minister Vadym) Guttsait that we take part in qualifying competitions only where there are no Russians,” government minister Oleh Nemchinov said Thursday, according to a Reuters translation of a Ukraine public broadcaster report. “Accordingly, participation outside these criteria may be grounds for depriving federations of their national status.”

A decision has not been published on the Ukraine government website.

Guttsait is also the president of Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee. A message was sent to the committee late Thursday seeking comment.

On Tuesday, the IOC updated its recommendations for the possible participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competition. Previously, the IOC recommended no Russians or Belarusians be allowed to compete.

Tuesday’s update called for strict measures should international sports federations decide to readmit Russians and Belarusians who do not actively support the war as neutral athletes in individual events.

“I want to tell our fellow athletes who are worried that due to the IOC measures and the admission of Russians or Belarusians to competitions, and accordingly Ukrainians will not be able to participate, that their careers will be broken,” Nemchinov said, according to the Reuters translation of the public broadcaster report. “But your life and that of your children will remain.”

The International Fencing Federation (FIE) decided earlier in March that it planned to readmit Russians and Belarusians starting in the second half of April, which is also when the 2024 Olympic qualifying period begins in that sport.

Most other international federations for Olympic sports are so far still barring Russians and Belarusians. Some have said they are considering the IOC’s updated recommendations as they monitor their positions.

After Nemchinov’s reported comments, the Ukraine fencing federation press secretary said late Thursday that its fencers will not compete against Russians.

“Ukrainian fencers will not only refuse to compete against Russian and Belarusian athletes but will not participate in events of any level where Russian or Belarusian athletes will be competing,” the press secretary said in an email.

Ukraine won at least one fencing medal at each of the last five Olympics.

“We are all professionals, and if I will fence, which can be or cannot, I think I will be professional,” Ukrainian fencer Olga Kharlan, a four-time Olympic medalist and a four-time individual world champion, said Wednesday regarding a possible boycott. “As a Ukrainian citizen, it’s tough to even imagine how to stand next to [Russians], to know that they’re supporting or they’re in silence and we haven’t heard any word from them or we know that they represent army that’s shelling Ukraine every day.”

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Wimbledon reverses ban on Russia, Belarus tennis players

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Russian and Belarusian players will be able to compete at Wimbledon as neutral athletes after the All England Club on Friday reversed its ban from last year.

The players must sign declarations of neutrality and comply with “appropriate conditions,” including not expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.

The players cannot receive funding from the Russian or Belarusian states, including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states.

Those impacted include Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.

Other tennis tournaments have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral athletes.

“We also consider alignment between the Grand Slams to be increasingly important in the current tennis environment,” the club said.

The same conditions will apply for Lawn Tennis Association tournaments used by players as grass-court warmups for the sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament.

The women’s and men’s professional tennis tours last year imposed heavy fines on the LTA and threatened to pull its tournaments. The ATP and WTA had also responded to last year’s ban by not awarding ranking points for Wimbledon — an unprecedented move against the prestigious event.

“There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some governing bodies in tennis to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be damaging to the interests of players, fans, The Championships and British tennis,” the club said.

This year’s Wimbledon tournament will start on July 3. The women’s final is scheduled for July 15 and the men’s final on July 16.

The All England Club said the conditions were developed through talks with the British government, the LTA and “international stakeholder bodies in tennis.”

The club’s statement described “personal player declarations” but didn’t provide details. The LTA said the players and support staff “will be required to sign neutrality declarations” similar to those used in other sports.

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