February 12, 2006

Emily to follow sister’s steps

TURIN (Reuters) - Emily Hughes will follow in the footsteps
of big sister and 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes when she
makes her debut at the Turin Winter Games.

The 17-year-old was biting into a Japanese delicacy named
after her sibling when she heard the news that she too would
get a chance at achieving Olympic glory after Michelle Kwan
withdrew from the competition with a groin injury.

"I was in a Japanese restaurant late last night and was
having some sushi called the Sarah gold roll, when my dad got a
call," Emily chuckled during a teleconference from Great Neck,
New York, on Sunday.

"I knew from his expression it was good news but we were
told that we couldn't tell anyone for the next 12 hours so that
was difficult when you're so excited.

"As we were told to keep it a secret, we left pretty
quickly so that we could go home and jump up and down."

Hughes was drafted into the U.S. team on Sunday as a
replacement for Kwan, who picked up a groin strain during a
practice session on Saturday.

"I feel that Michelle is very gracious and humble and it is
unfortunate that she got injured," Hughes said.

American bronze medallist Emily was controversially left
out of the team after Kwan was given a medical waiver to
compete in Turin despite being unable to compete at last
month's U.S. nationals.

But a new injury ruled out Kwan, who won a silver in Nagano
in 1998 and a bronze four years later in Salt Lake City, and
paved the way for Emily to compete.

"I couldn't be happier and I'm really looking forward to
getting there," said Emily, who has yet to map out her travel

"There's a blizzard outside so we can't really leave right
now anyway.

"The competition is more than a week away so we're taking a
little time to sort things out."

Despite her late entry into the women's event, which begins
on February 21, Emily said she would be ready.

"I have been training hard as the worlds (championships in
March) have been coming up and now Olympics have come along so
it's all working out really well," she said.