Michelle Kwan withdrew from the Olympics today because of a groin injury--allegedly a different one from the injury that prevented her participation in the US Nationals that serve as the Olympic trials for figure skating.
When Kwan received a bye from the powers-that-be I was almost entirely supportive of this move despite my sympathy for Emily Hughes, the third-place finisher at Nationals whom Kwan replaced essentially. I was a little suspect of the possible economic motivations for the bye (i.e. Kwan's appearance in Coca-Cola Olympic-themed commercials and Visa too I believe) but she is the reason the US could send 3 skaters this year and she is an icon--one who's ability has not, in my opinion, waned.
But her withdrawal makes me a little uneasy. This was it for Kwan--her last chance. The competition is still a few days away. Kwan always seemed like the type to push through adversity. This situation reminds me of the one a few weeks ago in Australia when Justine Henin-Hardenne retired from the Australian Open final with a stomach ailment giving Amelie Mauresmo her first Grand Slam victory. People--myself included--questioned Henin-Hardenne's commitment especially in light of Mauresmo's assertion that she was "prepared to die out there" in her attempt to win her first Grand Slam. I don't approve of the "no pain, no gain" theory of training and believe we should all defer to an athlete's own judgment about an injury. But I was honestly surprised that Kwan did not have a similar mentality as Mauresmo's. There is nothing left, as far as I can see, for Kwan to save herself for.
Of course I couldn't possibly know the severity of the injury and in the end I have to applaud Kwan for withdrawing in time for alternate Emily Hughes to make the trip over (assuming she can get out of snow-covered NY) and compete.