Olympics notebook: India won't fly its national flag in Sochi

| Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, 2:25 p.m.

LONDON — India athletes will compete under the Olympic flag — not their national flag — at next month's Winter Games in Sochi.

The three Indians who qualified for the games will compete as “independent” athletes, rather than represent their country, after their national body failed to schedule elections before the start of the Olympics on Feb. 7.

The Indian Olympic Association was suspended by the IOC in December 2012 for electing tainted officials, notably secretary-general Lalit Bhanot, who spent more than 10 months in jail on corruption charges related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

The International Olympic Committee said last month it would lift the suspension once new elections are held. The Indians have set their general assembly for Feb. 9, two days after the opening of the Sochi Olympics.

“Following the executive board decision in December, the IOC is considering all necessary arrangements for the Indian athletes who have qualified for the Sochi Games to take part as Independent Olympic Participants under the Olympic flag,” the IOC said in a statement on Thursday.

The trio includes Shiva Kesavan, a 32-year-old luger who will be appearing in his fifth Winter Games.

Kesavan told Indian media that not being able to compete under the national flag was “shameful and pathetic.”

“It is a sad and embarrassing situation that Indian sport has been put in,” he said. “People around the world know about the failure of our systems and about corruption and bad governance in sports.”

Under pressure from the IOC, the Indian body amended its constitution last month to ban corruption-tainted officials from running for election. Had India not complied, it would have become the first country expelled from the Olympics since South Africa was kicked out more than 40 years ago.

Speedskater relishes role

Shani Davis was a star at the last two Olympics.

Only now does he seem comfortable with the role.

As he heads into what could be his final Winter Games, the 31-year-old U.S. speedskater has finally embraced the spotlight and come to terms with the remarkable legacy he'll leave behind no matter what happens in Sochi.

“It's my time,” Davis said. “I'm going to try to take advantage of it, share myself and my story with the world as much as I can without it interfering with what I have to do.”

Next month, he will attempt to become the first male skater to win the same event at three straight Olympics, having captured gold in the 1,000 meters at both Turin and Vancouver. Also, he's looking to improve on the pair of silver medals he settled for in the 1,500, switching up his training methods with the goal of peaking at just the right time.

Davis' impact goes beyond gold and silver, though. He was the first black athlete to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Games, and he remains one of the few people of color at the oval.

Former champ headed to American Cup

Former champion Fabian Hambuechen of Germany and Olympic bronze medalist Larisa Iordache of Romania headline the international field for the American Cup in Greensboro, N.C., this spring.

Hambuechen and Iordache will join world Americans Simone Biles, Kyla Ross, John Orozco and Sam Mikulak as part of the invitation-only event on March 1, one of the first elite gymnastics meets of 2014.

Biles is the current world all-around champion. Ross and was a member of the Olympic gold-medal winning USA gymnastics team in London while Mikulak is the reigning NCAA and U.S. all-around champion.

Hambuechen won the American Cup in 2009 and is a two-time Olympic medalist in the high bar.

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