Joseph Schooling to skip world swimming championships, 2024 uncertain, report says

Joseph Schooling, Michael Phelps
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Singapore’s Joseph Schooling, who beat Michael Phelps in Phelps’ last individual Olympic race, will reportedly skip June’s world swimming championships and is uncertain whether he will bid for the 2024 Olympics.

Schooling, 26, is prioritizing this month’s Southeast Asian Games and bypassing worlds in Budapest, according to Yahoo News Singapore. Schooling’s agent hasn’t responded to a Wednesday request for confirmation.

He was also bidding for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, in September, but organizers announced last week that they were postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Schooling said last month that these might be his last Southeast Asian Games.

The Southeast Asian Games are typically held in odd years, but the 2021 edition was postponed to this year. The next Southeast Asian Games are in 2023, which means Schooling is considering not swimming through the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“Right now the question is, OK, do I swim until Paris, or do we stop and reassess and see where we’re going to go after Asian Games?” Schooling said in a Yahoo News Singapore video interview before the Asian Games were postponed. “If this schedule persists, I don’t think I can make it to 2024.”

Schooling was referencing balancing training with his mandatory national service in Singapore, which began this year and lasts two years.

In 2016, Schooling handed Phelps his first defeat in an Olympic 100m butterfly to become Singapore’s first Olympic gold medalist. He took bronze at the 2017 Worlds, then was eliminated in the heats at the 2019 Worlds and the Tokyo Olympics.

Schooling swam in high school for the Bolles Sharks in Jacksonville, Florida, and was club teammates with Caeleb Dressel, who succeeded Schooling as Olympic 100m butterfly champion.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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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.”