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John-Henry Krueger, Olympic short track medalist, eyes Hungary

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John-Henry Krueger, who earned the U.S.’ lone short track medal in PyeongChang, wants to compete for Hungary.

U.S. Speedskating confirmed USA Today report that the Olympic 1000m silver medalist seeks Hungarian citizenship.

“I was and am still proud to have represented the United States during my career but have been faced with an unsustainable situation where if I continue pursuing my career with the US team I will bankrupt myself and my family,” Krueger said in an email, according to the newspaper. “Overall the financial costs necessary for me to perform competitively at the international level are unsustainable with the lack of sufficient financial support from US Speedskating and the [United States Olympic Committee].”

Krueger has not responded to a request for comment, but his representative said U.S. Speedskating is committed to grant Krueger’s request to be released to compete for Hungary.

“Today John-Henry accepted the Hungarian’s offer to represent Hungary,” was posted on Krueger’s mom’s Facebook account, according to the newspaper. “Be clear JH did not leave his country, but is leaving the federation that callously abandoned him on so many fronts long ago and then refused to thoughtfully consider any of JH’s concerns, opinions, and requirements.”

Krueger would join older brother Cole with the Hungarian program if released by U.S. Speedskating. Cole switched from the U.S. to Hungary after the 2015-16 season, but he had to take the 2016-17 season off from competition after being released by U.S. Speedskating.

The Kruegers had disputes with U.S. Speedskating since at least 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal. Cole moved to Hungary, which he said was the country of his ancestry, in part because of that program’s coaching staff.

“I don’t have problems with the U.S. coaches, but the skill level hasn’t been what I think was necessary,” Cole said, according to the newspaper in a March 2017 article. “No one would trade for the U.S. coaches.”

Cole was not chosen for Hungary’s Olympic team.

John-Henry, who lived and trained in South Korea and the Netherlands in recent years, swept all three distances at December’s U.S. Olympic Trials and was considered an outside medal hope going into his first Olympics.

His silver in the 1000m was the first individual U.S. Olympic medal in short- or long-track speed skating since 2010.

John-Henry joined about 200 members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams last Friday at the White House, where he was one of about a dozen athletes congratulated by name by President Donald Trump.

Krueger could become the fourth U.S. Winter Olympian to later compete for a different country at a Winter Games, after fellow short track skater Anthony Lobello, who competed for the U.S. in 2006 and Italy in 2014, Alpine skier Sarah Schleper, an American from 1998-2010 and Mexican in 2018 and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, a bobsledder for the U.S. in 2014 and Jamaica in 2018, according to the OlyMADMen.

Three other athletes competed for other countries at the Winter Olympics, then later became U.S. Winter Olympians (figure skater Rena Inoue and lugers Clay Ives and Bengt Walden).

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this post left out Schleper and Fenlator-Victorian as the second and third athletes to compete for the U.S. in a Winter Olympics, then a different nation in a later Olympics.

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Charles Hamelin finally claims short track world overall title

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Charles Hamelin won Canada’s first overall title at a world short track speed skating championships in 20 years, bagging the biggest missing prize from his extensive collection this past weekend.

The 33-year-old and four-time Olympian won the 1000m and 1500m at worlds in Montreal en route to the overall crown tallying results from those two events, a 500m and a 3000m.

Hamelin came into the meet as the only male skater in history to win individual gold medals at multiple Olympics yet never claim an overall world title. From 2007 through 2016, Hamelin finished second in the overall three times and third another three times at the annual worlds.

“I was missing two medals [before this year]: Olympic champion in the 1000m and first in overall standings at a world championship,” Hamelin said, according to the International Skating Union. “To win it here in Montreal in front of my family and friends, I’m at a loss for words.”

Hamelin was originally going to retire after worlds but decided in the last month — after failing to finish in the top five in any individual race for the first time at an Olympics and announcing a split with fiancée and triple Olympic medalist Marianne St-Gelais — that he would continue at least through the 2018-19 season.

He won the overall at worlds with 81 points, nearly double the points of silver medalist Liu Shaolin Sándor, who was part of Hungary’s Olympic 5000m relay champion team. South Korean Hwang Dae-Heon took overall bronze with 44 points, one point behind Liu.

The last Canadian to win the world overall title was Marc Gagnon in 1998, the last of his four crowns.

On the women’s side, South Korean Choi Min-Jeong won her third world overall title in four years by claiming 500m, 1500m and 3000m wins. Olympic teammate Shim Suk-Hee was second, followed by Chinese Li Jinyu. South Korean won every female gold medal.

The U.S. went medal-less at a fourth straight worlds and didn’t advance any skaters past the semifinals. Its roster included individual Olympic medalists John-Henry Krueger and J.R. Celski and recently crowned world junior 500m champion Maame Biney.

Viktor Ahn, the six-time Olympic champion left off the list of Russians invited to PyeongChang by the International Olympic Committee, failed to advance past any individual semifinals.

Italian Arianna Fontana, the most decorated short track skater in PyeongChang with a medal of every color, competed only in the relay in Montreal due to emotional exhaustion, according to her social media.

Brit Elise Christie, the 2017 World overall champion, missed the championships altogether after suffering ankle ligament damage in a crash at the Olympics.

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Charles Hamelin changes mind about retirement

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Charles Hamelin, the only Canadian short track speed skater with multiple individual Olympic titles, isn’t retiring after this weekend’s world championships after all.

“Since I’ve returned from the Olympics, I feel like I’m in great shape and I’ve been coming up with new personal bests in training,” Hamelin said in a Wednesday press release. “So I’ve thought about all that and, today, I’m announcing that I am postponing my retirement and that I’ve decided to come back for at least another year. I believe I still have something to give to the new generation of skaters, to the sport of short track and to Canada. I’m looking forward to being in the thick of things this weekend, to representing Canada proudly and to contribute to the team’s medal haul.

“I don’t want to have any regrets in my mind or my heart about the sport,” Hamelin added, according to the Canadian Press. “If I was to quit after these world championships I would have had regrets.”

Hamelin, 33, headlines the Canadian team for worlds in Montreal beginning with qualifying Friday.

Hamelin said before the PyeongChang Olympics, his fourth Winter Games, that he would retire after this season.

Hamelin then struggled individually in South Korea, failing to finish in the top five in any individual race for the first time at an Olympics.

He did break the Olympic record in the 1000m heats and earn a bronze in the relay, giving him five Olympic medals to match retired François-Louis Tremblay and Marc Gagnon for the Canadian short track record. Hamelin also became the oldest male Olympic short track medalist.

Two weeks after the Olympics, Hamelin and his fiancée since 2014, three-time Olympian Marianne St-Gelais, announced their breakup. Hamelin had talked in PyeongChang of starting a family with St-Gelais.

St-Gelais and Hamelin’s younger brother, Francois, have said they will retire after worlds.

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