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February 2, 2014

Bearing the flame, bound for Sochi

(Continued)

LAKE PLACID —

On the first trip, athletes were astounded to find palm trees on the seaside landscape.

“When the team got there, they went swimming in the Black Sea,” he said.

But elements of historic wars fought over religious and cultural differences that divide Russia linger in the mountains, drawing threats from neighboring nations at war with their former “motherland.”

Terrorists bombs exploded in Volgograd some 428 miles distant twice last month, killing 34 people.

Sochi is currently surrounded by a veritable army of 60,000 or more Russian police, soldiers, American security personnel and even two American warships standing by in the Black Sea.

Some have questioned the location choice of these 2014 Olympics. The Washington Post last week said Russia is hosting the games on the “edge of a war zone.”

Olympic events have long marked passages of terrible times in human history. The 1940 Summer Games were set to begin in Tokyo, but were canceled when World War II started. Games were canceled in the summer of 1916 and in 1944, due to war. In 1972, terrorists attacked the Israeli team competing in Munich, the first held in Germany since the Nazi reign. Eleven athletes were killed.

Hamlin, 27, said she has never been in a competitive arena where she didn’t feel safe.

“I have confidence it will be fine,” she said last week.

Their approach intends to stay focused on good sports and sportsmanship and to play it safe.

“Yes, security is a concern insomuch as it’s becoming pervasive in the media in these final weeks prior to Sochi,” Caligiore said.

“But in our conversations with USOC leadership, and in turn, their communication with Washington and SOCOG (Sochi organizing committee), absolutely all measures are being taken to insure a secure Games. We won’t be out there trying to draw attention to ourselves ... unless, of course, we win medals!”

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