Tuesday, February 5, 2008

This and That

News continues to pick up as just six months remain until the summer games.

1. Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Maurice Greene announced his retirement from track and field. Injured will prevent Greene from challenging for another Olympic Gold in the 100 meters. Greene, the 2000 Olympic Champion in the 100m, will now focus his attention on coaching and various business efforts.

2. Valentine Piacentini, Italy's former #1 table tennis player, has been banned for 20 months (effective last June) for testing positive for cocaine at the Italian Championships. This marks yet another doping scandal to rock the sports world this year.

3.The USA's Tyson Gay guarantees that he will be substance free when her attempts to be the first man since Carl Lewis to win Olympic Gold in both the 100 and 200 meter races. It is a sad moment for the sports world when an athlete has to vow to be substance free.

4. The Beijing Olympic committee is currently testing x-ray machines in two of its subway stations. If the machines are successful, the committee hopes to boost their anti-terrorism efforts by installing the machines throughout every subway station in the city.

5. Although he split from his longtime coach last month, 24-year-old Jeremy Wariner vows to break Michael Johnson's 400m record of 43.18 seconds by or before the summer games. Johnson is Wariner's agent and mentor.

6. Fresh on the heels of media speculation that she should make an immediate coaching change, Kimmie Meissner has left coach Pam Gregory to train for Richard Callaghan in Ft. Lauderdale for the next six weeks. It is undecided whether this is a temporary or permanent switch. Callaghan is a known task master and pushed Todd Eldredge, Tara Lipinski and Nicole Bobek to the best form of their careers. Meissner hopes to rebound from a rough season and earn a medal at next month's World Figure Skating Championships. The USFSA is counting on Meissner to deliver a strong performance in order to assure that the USA will have three ladies eligible to compete at the 2009 World Championships. Meissner, the 2007 National Champion, finished 6th out of 6 skaters at the Grand Prix Final and then tumbled to seventh at last week's United States Figure Skating Championships.

7. Mattie Larson, last month's USOC Athlete of the Month, finished first on floor (15.350) and second on balance beam (15.400) at this past weekend's WOGA Classic. Larson's scores are solid, but the new senior competitor will need to improve those scores by a few tenths if she hopes to sway the selection committee to name her to the Olympic Team. Larson decided to remain a junior international elite in 2007, forgoing a chance to qualify for the 2007 World Championships. If Larson is to make a bid for the Olympic Team, it would be extremely beneficial for the AOGC gymnast to be named to the Pacific Alliance squad. The 2007 Jr. Pan American Games currently rank as Larson's biggest international event.

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