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Olympic champion bobsledder Kaillie Humphries granted citizenship, can compete for Team USA

USA TODAY
USA TODAY
 2021-12-03

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Now that Kaillie Humphries can wear the red, white and blue in Beijing, she’d like to top it with some gold, silver or bronze.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist in bobsled became an American citizen Thursday, making her eligible to represent her adopted country at the Beijing Olympics in February. Humphries had been stateless in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee since asking for her release from Canada in August 2019, a year after she filed a formal complaint alleging verbal and emotional abuse by the Canadian team coach.

“I’m more emotional than I thought I would be,” Humphries said in a statement. “Even though you believe in your application and you know it meets the requirements, you don’t know. When she came back in and said ‘Yes, I’m approving your application for citizenship,’ then it was real.”

Humphries has lived in the United States since 2016, and been married to an American, former bobsledder Travis Armbruster, since 2019. That’s the same year she began representing the United States on the World Cup circuit and at the world championships, where she has won the last two titles in two-man as well as the inaugural title in monobob.

But the IOC has more stringent rules than individual sport federations, requiring athletes to be citizens of the countries they represent. While Humphries was eligible for U.S. citizenship, she had to undergo the same laborious process as everyone else, a process made even longer because of a backlog created during COVID-19 shutdowns.

Initially told she might not be granted citizenship in time for Beijing, Humphries’ cause was bolstered by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and USA Bobsled, as well as Congressional representatives from both parties.

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Humphries never asked for special treatment, said her immigration attorney, John Exner. They instead made the case that she qualified for the process by which approval for citizenship can be expedited.

“I strongly believed in the legal basis for her application. I knew we had an approvable case,” Exner told USA TODAY Sports. “Nothing in immigration is a guarantee, and you always know there’s a possibility things can get denied and things can not go your way. But I was fairly optimistic from the get-go.”

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Kaillie Humphries competes in the monobob during the IBSF Bob and Skeleton World Cup. Peter Rinderer, EXPA/AFP via Getty Images

Humphries is in Europe for the World Cup circuit, but posted on Instagram on Wednesday night that she was flying back to San Diego for “24 hours.” She had to do an interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services before her application was granted final approval.

Now that it has been, Humphries can focus on Beijing -- and bringing some hardware home to her new country.

“This is a country that I very much love and have grown accustomed to. It's where I have chosen to raise my family and where I choose to live and the community I choose to be a part of,” Humphries told USA TODAY Sports last month. “To be able to give back to the country as a whole, to sing the Star-Spangled Banner and wear the red, white and blue, it's very empowering for me, and I am so excited to do everything I can to live out that dream.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Olympic champion bobsledder Kaillie Humphries granted citizenship, can compete for Team USA

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