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June 24, 2017

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Reaching Sochi 'my biggest victory': Morgenstern

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia -- Austrian three-time Olympic ski jumping champion Thomas Morgenstern described his battle to make the Sochi Winter Games following a horror fall as his biggest victory of the year.

"I still haven't recovered completely," the 27-year-old said. "I feel pain in my neck and feel slightly rusty in the morning. But I already can fly again.

"I'm really happy to receive a chance to come back into Austrian Olympic team from the injury and to compete here. It's my biggest victory this year so far."

Morgenstern, who won gold at the large hill in Turin in 2006 and team gold in Italy and Vancouver in 2010, suffered skull and lung injuries after a dramatic crash in training for the World Cup ski flying event in Austria on Jan. 10.

He said that he was not yet sure of his plans for the Games but said he would like to compete on the normal hill for a start.

"It's hard to make serious plans when you're still feeling pain," he said.

"First I'll compete at the normal hill and after we'll see ... Hopefully I'll take part in the team event also.

"I've already made a dozen training jumps before and three jumps here in Sochi and feel well. I like the hill and the weather and I am looking forward for the Games to start."

As the 11th-ranked jumper in the World Cup standings this season Morgenstern will have to qualify for the both individual events, starting with the normal hill qualification on Saturday as only the top 10 pre-qualified.

Meanwhile, Morgenstern said he approves of women making their ski jumping debut at Sochi.

"It's great that they (women) will take part in the Olympics for the first time," he said.

"We had two world championships together and I can say their level is rising from event to event. I'm their fan and will come to support them if I have a chance."

Fellow Austrian star Gregor Schlierenzauer also expressed his support for the women.

"I think it's very good for our sport that women now have a chance to battle for Olympic medals," said Schlierenzauer, who was part of the gold medal Austrian team in Vancouver.

"It's a good starting point and I believe their level will improve steadily. It's always great to be at the Games, it's a fantastic feeling being an Olympian.

He added: "I'm hoping to win an individual Olympic gold medal at last. I worked hard for it and I'm focusing on this task. I'll just need a bit of luck. And of course we all want to repeat our team's victory that we achieved at Vancouver."

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