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Ri Se-Gwang, Olympic vault champion, retires from gymnastics

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Ri Se-Gwang, the Rio Olympic vault champion from North Korea, announced his retirement last week, according to the International Gymnastics Federation.

Ri, 35, earned one of North Korea’s two gold medals overall at the Rio Games.

Ri performed the most difficult combination of vaults — each with a 6.4 difficulty — and took one step on each landing to beat Russian Denis Ablyazin and Japanese Kenzo Shirai. He became the oldest Olympic gymnastics champion since 1968, according to the OlyMADMen.

Rio marked Ri’s lone Olympics.

He earned vault bronze at the 2007 World Championships but was unable to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games.

North Korea’s gymnastics federation was banned from international competition during the London Olympics as punishment for age falsification.

After the ban was lifted, Ri earned world titles in 2014, 2015 and 2018. He failed to make the eight-man vault final at 2019 Worlds won by Russian Nikita Nagornyy, the world all-around champion.

MORE: Ragan Smith finds joy in college gymnastics after life-changing decision

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South Korea set to host 2024 Youth Winter Olympics; North Korea could be involved

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic events are set to soon return to South Korea at some of the venues used for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games.

On the sidelines of the Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne, the International Olympic Committee will vote this week to approve Gangwon province as host of the 2024 Youth Winter Games.

North Korea is not currently part of the 2024 project despite earlier hopes of cooperation between the neighboring countries.

The fourth edition of the Winter Youth Olympics would be the first held outside Europe. Austria and Norway hosted previous editions.

The South Korean proposal includes the cities of PyeongChang and Gangneung, which were the hub of the 2018 Olympics.

North Korea could yet be involved “if the conditions are right,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

The IOC executive board also agreed to add the new sports of baseball5, a street version of the game with five players per team, and wushu, a Chinese martial art, to the program for the 2022 Youth Olympics in Dakar, Senegal. Those Games will be held from late October into November.

MORE: 2020 Youth Winter Olympics TV schedule

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North Korea to skip Olympic soccer qualifier in South Korea

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North Korea will skip an Olympic women’s soccer qualifying tournament hosted by South Korea in February.

The Asian Football Confederation confirmed a Yonhap News Agency report of North Korea’s withdrawal.

North Korea is ranked 11th in the world, second-highest among Asian nations trying to qualify for the Tokyo Games behind No. 7 Australia. Two nations will qualify via Asia to join Japan, ranked 10th and automatically qualified for the Olympics as host nation.

North Korea would have been scheduled to play South Korea on the South Korean island of Jeju at the Olympic qualifier.

Women’s soccer is the only team sport where North Korea fielded a squad at recent Olympics, doing so in 2008 and 2012. It earned one win at each of those Games and lost 1-0 to the U.S. in London.

In 2017, North Korea competed at a lower-level women’s ice hockey world championship in South Korea. Ten months later, North Korean players were added to the South Korean team at the PyeongChang Olympics. The two nations also marched together at the Opening Ceremony under a unified Korea flag.

“Talks about having another joint march and fielding more unified teams at the Tokyo Olympics have all but died,” according to Yonhap.

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