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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh native, and U.S. speed skater John-Henry Krueger won a silver medal in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, but now he wants to compete for a new country.
USA Today reports that Krueger will no longer compete for the United States after a dispute with the U.S. federation and will now compete for Hungary.
Krueger, 23, was the only American short-track skater to place at the Olympics.
In a statement to USA Today he says:
“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. 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’s brother Cole is already on the Hungary team.
His decision comes less than a week after Krueger and some members of the U.S. Olympic team met with President Trump at the White House.
Krueger started skating at a very young age with coach Robert Halden.
“You could tell that he had a lot of talent,” Halden said.
Like all athletes who make it to the top, it takes practice, persistence and a lot of money.
“I would’ve been happy to see him stay with the U.S., but I certainly understand what he’s doing and why he’s doing it,” Halden said.
Halden says he wasn’t surprised when the local Olympic athlete accepted an offer to represent Hungary in the next Olympic games.
“This is not a question of abandoning the United States in favor of Hungary,” he said. “It’s a question of financing your profession.”
The profession pays little more than minimum wage but requires expenses that are upwards in the hundreds of thousands. With just 25,000 skaters across the United States, the sport doesn’t attract big sponsors.
KDKA-TV’s Christine D’Antonio spoke with Krueger’s mother Tuesday. She was very emotional and did not want to go on camera, saying the family has been getting some hateful messages.
Halden says it doesn’t have anything to do with Krueger’s love of the United States.
“He’s a world-class athlete. He enjoys his sport, and you simply have to go and do what’s necessary in order to survive and to live,” Halden said.