Lara van Ruijven
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Short track world champion ‘fighting for her life’

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Lara van Ruijven, a world champion short track speed skater from the Netherlands, is “fighting for her life” with an autoimmune disorder in intensive care, a Dutch short track coach said.

Van Ruijven, 27, was hospitalized last week after feeling ill at a training camp in the French Pyrenees. Complications arose over the weekend, including internal bleeding.

The Dutch speed skating federation said Monday that her condition was stable but critical. On Wednesday, the federation said her condition deteriorated: still critical, with no signs of recovery after two surgeries.

“With incredible perseverance she has won the world title on the ice, but this battle is many times tougher,” Dutch coach Jeroen Otter, who has been with van Ruijven in the hospital said, according to a Reuters translation of a press release. “We all sympathize with her and hope with all our heart that she will come out well.”

Van Ruijven is the reigning world champion at 500m. She earned bronze at the PyeongChang Olympics as part of the 3000m relay.

Anna van der Breggen, Olympic road race champion, sets retirement date

Anna van der Breggen
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Anna van der Breggen, the Rio Olympic road race champion from the Netherlands, will retire after the 2021 cycling season.

”The Olympic Games in Tokyo are, of course, a great challenge and an important reason for continuing another year,” van der Breggen said in a press release announcing she will transition to a coaching and team director role with her professional team. ”I also want to end my career with a great, full season. Especially after this year, which was largely lost due to the corona pandemic, I am enormously motivated to continue for one more year.

“I’ve been thinking about a role as team leader/coach for some time. I was quickly excited about the team’s proposal. I had gradually come to realize that I was looking for a new challenge in my life. In 2021, I want to get the best out of myself on my bike for one more season. After that, I will focus on this new job.”

Van der Breggen earned road race gold and time trial bronze in Rio, the best combined performance for a female road cyclist since countrywoman Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel swept the road events at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Van der Breggen, then 26, won the Rio road race after countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten flipped into a ditch while leading alone with seven miles left of the 87-mile event. Van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion. Later, van der Breggen took bronze in the time trial behind American Kristin Armstrong, who three-peated in the event and retired.

Van der Breggen and van Vleuten led Dutch domination this Olympic cycle, combining for four world titles and eight medals between the road race and time trial at the last three world championships.

Van der Breggen and van Vleuten nearly went one-two in both races at 2019 Worlds. But American Chloe Dygert crushed the Dutch in the time trial, winning by a record 92 seconds.

Van der Breggen started cycling at age 7, then took a break as a junior rider for a nursing internship in Ghana. Then she rode in support of Dutch superstar Marianne Vos before making her Olympic debut in 2016.

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Sanne Wevers, Olympic balance beam champion, gets beam delivered through home window

Sanne Wevers
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Sanne Wevers, the Olympic balance beam champion from the Netherlands, found a unique way to train on her trademark event without leaving her home.

A beam was delivered through what appeared to be a second-story window. The beam is the Olympic length of five meters, according to Dutch media.

Wevers, a 28-year-old twin, was the only woman to win gold over Simone Biles in a Rio Olympic final. She became the oldest female Olympic gymnastics champion since 1968 with her surprise beam title over Laurie Hernandez and Biles.

Wevers’ best beam finish at the world championships the last three years was seventh in 2018. Biles is the reigning world champion, looking to claim the gold medal that eluded her at the Rio Games.

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