Sports Outside the Beltway

Former Olympic Medalist Wayne Collett dead at 60

He also won 3 consecutive NCAA relay championships while attending UCLA. RIP.

Wayne Collett, a silver medalist in the 400-meters at the 1972 Munich Olympics who starred in the hurdles, sprints and relays at UCLA, died Wednesday. He was 60.

He passed away at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer, the university says after being informed of his death by family friends and his former college coach Jim Bush.

At the 1972 U.S. Olympic trials, Collett ran the fastest 400 time in history at sea level before finishing second in Munich.

He competed for UCLA from 1968-71, winning Pac-8 titles in the 440-yard intermediate hurdles and the 440-yard dash. He anchored three consecutive NCAA championship mile relay teams.


Former Olympic Gold medal wrestler Henry Wittenberg dead at 91

He won a silver at the 1952 games in addition to a gold at the 48 Summer Olympics. RIP.

Henry Wittenberg, an amateur wrestler who went undefeated for more than 300 matches and won a gold medal at the 1948 London Olympics, has died. He was 91.Henry Wittenberg

His family said Wittenberg died Tuesday at his home in Somers, N.Y.

Wittenberg began wrestling at City College, becoming a star under the tutelage of coach Joe Sapora. He graduated in 1940 and went on to dominate national and international freestyle wrestling in his weight class while working as a New York City police officer.

With World War II canceling the Olympics, Wittenberg served in the Navy. He came back to win gold in the London Games at 191.5 pounds. His unbeaten streak ended when he won silver at the 1952 Helsinki Games, losing to Wiking Palm of Sweden in the title match.

Wittenberg won his eighth and final Amateur Athletic Union national title in 1952. He was also a two-time champion at the Maccabiah Games, the international competition for Jewish athletes in Israel.

He retired as policeman in 1954 and went on to coach wrestling at Yeshiva University and City College and guided the U.S. Greco-Roman team at the 1968 Mexico City Games. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1977.


Canada Beats USA in Overtime for Olympic Hockey Gold

Team Canada beat Team USA 3-2 on an overtime goal by Sidney Crosby.

A shame for Team USA, which outplayed expectations, beating Canada in the early rounds and arriving undefeated in the gold medal game.Canada Hockey Gold

It’s a rather odd tournament structure for an undefeated team to face a rematch in the championship game against a team it beat along the way and then play a single-elimination showdown. There’s not much incentive to win the first game if the two teams contend as equals in the finals.

Still, Canada had to fight their way to the game the hard way, beating the Russians along the way. It’s probable that the better team won. And they were at home, to boot.

Team USA fought back after being down 2-0, scoring the tying game with an empty net with just seconds to go. Stellar stuff and, certainly, nothing to be ashamed of against a favored team with more veteran talent playing in front of its home crowd. Let alone with the winning shot made by a man widely considered the best hockey player in the world.

Still, being 1-1 against Canada in the tourney and finishing in second place behind Canada is rather hollow. Obviously, you’d much rather have lost the first one and won the second.

Ah, well. Back to not caring about hockey for another four years.


Kim Yu-na wins Women’s figure skating gold medal

The long expected coronation of ice skating’s newest queen took place last night. From Yahoo Sports-

A women’s figure skating performance that likely will be remembered as one of the best of all time.Olympic Gold

The South Korean soared to the Olympic gold medal Thursday night, scoring 228.56 points and shattering her previous world record by more than 18 points. It is South Korea’s first medal at the Winter Olympics in a sport other than speedskating, and it’s sure to set off wild celebrations from Seoul to Pyeongchang.

Even Kim seemed to be dazzled by the show she put on, gasping when she saw the monstrous score. Coach Brian Orser gave a Rocky-like victory pump, shaking his clasped fists over each shoulder.

“I still can’t believe it,” Kim said. “I waited a long time for the Olympics, and it feels like a large weight has been lifted off.”

The 19-year-old grinned as she hopped up to the top spot on the podium, tugging at the bottom of her dress. When the gold medal was slipped over her head, she kissed both sides and held it up. Her lip quivered when the South Korean anthem began, and then came the tears.

She made a beeline for someone holding the South Korean flag as she set off on her victory lap, and carried it triumphantly as fans serenaded her with cheers and applause.

“Truly I still can’t believe that I did what I wanted to do at the Olympics,” she said.

Longtime rival Mao Asada of Japan won the silver medal, but it was no contest—even with Asada landing both her triple axels, one in combination with a double toe loop. Asada was more than 23 points behind Kim, a margin so big Kim could have done nothing but figure 8s for the last half of her program and still finished in front.

That is exaggerating just a tad. Asada is very talented but Kim’s juggernaut like run to the Gold medal was seen as inevitable by most knowledgeable people for at least two years. This blog rarely features posts about figure skating, but I also wrote about Kim beginning with this post. I learned about her in late 2008 and it gave me an idea for one of my online fiction stories.

The United States was locked out of the medals for the first time since 1964.(Which was a special case. The entire U.S. figure skating team was killed three years earlier in a plane crash) Again people who followed this sport the American skaters would need a miracle to just earn a bronze medal. It didn’t happen.

A big thank you to GI at ROK Drop. I used the links and photos from his post.


Toronto Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski arrested

That broken wrist he suffered last month isn’t keeping him out of fights. From the Toronto Star-

This isn’t how the Maple Leafs hoped Mikhail Grabovski would be spending his Olympic break.

The 26-year-old centre was arrested at 2:30 a.m. Saturday by Vancouver police and kept in jail overnight after allegedly being involved in a street altercation.

Grabovski was apparently released to his parents at about 9 a.m. Saturday.

Leafs GM Brian Burke said in a news release he was “aware” of the incident. “Since we are presently investigating this matter, the team will not provide any further comment at this time.”

The details of the incident are unclear, but apparently an argument on the street escalated into a situation in which punches might have been thrown, possibly at least one by Grabovski. No charges had been laid as of late Saturday evening.

The wrist injury took place on January 2nd. He was scheduled to play for Belarus in the Olympics.

IMHO Grabovski is an overpriced NHL player and just another example of why Toronto is one of the worst run teams in the NHL. They are paying nearly 3 million dollars for a player with 7 goals and 12 assists scored this year.


Olympic Medalist skiier Jimmie Heuga dead at 68

In addition to the bronze medal in the slalom he won at the 1964 Winter Olympics held in Innsbruck, Huega was the 1963 NCAA Champion. RIP.

Former U.S. Olympic skier Jimmie Heuga, who won a bronze medal at the 1964 games and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years later, died Monday. He was 66.

University of Colorado ski coach Richard Rokos, a longtime and close friend of Heuga’s, said the former NCAA champion for CU died at Boulder Community Hospital.

“He was a very strong man and an inspiration to so many people in the ski world and the medical world,” said Huega’s wife, Debbie Huega. “He’s skiing the hills of heaven right now.”

Rokos said Heuga had recently been dealing with respiratory problems.

Heuga finished third in the slalom at the ’64 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Fellow American Billy Kidd won the silver. It was the first time U.S. skiing had gained prominence worldwide.

“Jimmie Heuga was a champion in every sense of the word,” said U.S. Ski team president Bill Marolt, who skied with Heuga on the 1964 Olympic Team. “He was a champion as an athlete, as a person and any way you want to measure him.

“When I look back at all the athletes I’ve known, pound for pound, Jimmie Heuga was the toughest I’ve ever met. He was a 5-foot-6, 140-pound guy who didn’t back down from anybody. That’s the kind of toughness you need to be a champion.”

Heuga, born in Squaw Valley, Calif., won the 1963 NCAA championship in the slalom.

In 1968, Heuga and Kidd were pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated before they competed in the Olympics at Grenoble, France.

Heuga was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1970 after displaying symptoms for a year. The effects of the disease eventually confined him to a wheelchair.

“He was the personification of determination and never giving up — he inspired so many people,” Kidd said in release from the U.S. Ski Team. “Jimmie’s accomplishments on the race course will forever be remembered. But it’s his accomplishments and drive in the fight against MS that will continue to help so many people live their lives. His life is an inspiration.”

Heuga founded in 1983 the Jimmie Heuga Center for M.S. in Edwards, a nonprofit organization now called Can Do Multiple Sclerosis.


2010 Olympic venue closed due to heavy rains

What member or members of the IOCC pissed off mother nature? From AP-

The ski resort that will host freestyle and snowboarding events at the Vancouver Games is closed because of rain and warm temperatures.

The closure renews concerns about the mild climate during next month’s Olympics.

Soft snow conditions bordering on dangerous forced the cancellation of a men’s and women’s World Cup parallel giant slalom last winter.

But Tim Gayda, vice president of sport for the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee, said both artificial and natural snow has been stockpiled.

It was so cold here in South Florida last Saturday night-Sunday morning, that if the clouds let loose, we may have seen snow flurries for the second time ever. It’s raining in Canada now, what is wrong with that picture?

The Canadian government is also spending 9 million dollars on weather forecasting equipment. We all know that no mistakes are made when forecasting the next day’s weather? NOT!

I do think the Olympics in Vancouver will be a success. Just call this some late morning snark.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


Greece Olympic committee acknowledges poor judgment in case of torchbearer

The commission made no apology however for their actions. From AP-

The Greek Olympic Committee has acknowledged it was wrong to allow a hurdler serving a doping ban to take part in the Vancouver flame relay.

Olympic Torch Relay Commission president Spyros Zannias says Fani Halkia was included in the relay after a proposal by the Greek Olympic medalists’ association.

Zannias said his commission “was wrong to accept the proposal,” but offered no apology.

The International Olympic Committee has criticized the inclusion of Halkia, who was expelled from the 2008 Beijing Games after testing positive for steroid use. Halkia, who was banned for two years and faces a trial for steroid use, has denied knowingly taking drugs.

She was banned from the games, and in my opinion it was wrong for Halkia to be a torchbearer. Greece must certainly have other talented athletes who aren’t tainted by drug use.


Hiroshima, Nagasaki to bid for 2020 Summer Olympics

Didn’t the Governor of Tokyo just say the 2016 games were likely to be the last? From AP-

Hiroshima and Nagasaki – site of atomic bombings in World War II – are teaming up to make a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics that will emphasize world peace.

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba and Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue announced on Sunday that they will form a joint bid committee. The mayors are founding members of the Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign, which advocates for a global ban on nuclear arms.

“The Olympics symbolize the abolition of nuclear arms and world peace, and we want to work to realize our plan to host the games,” Akiba said.

No, the Olympics have nothing to do with nuclear disarmament. If the Nobel Prize committe is determining the site of future Olympics, Nagasaki and Hiroshima may well be chosen using this argument, otherwise it is a pipe dream.


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