Hunter Kemper beat the Texas heat--and all comers--at the U.S.
Olympic triathlon trials
Hours after handily winning the U.S. Olympic men's triathlon
trials in 90[degree] heat in Dallas on Sunday, Hunter Kemper was
giving public-speaking pointers to a new Olympic teammate.
"Closer to the mike," Kemper, 24, told Nick Radkewich, 29, at
the postevent press conference. "Gotta talk right into it."
Kemper, the U.S. torchbearer for a sport that will make its
Olympic debut in Sydney, is as good as they come: engaging,
fan-friendly, well-spoken. He hasn't been at a loss for words
since his first courtship, at age nine. Hunter had been chatty
pals with Jody Radkewich, Nick's younger sister, with whom he
attended age-group swim meets in their Orlando neighborhood. Then
word spread around the pool that they were an item. "For the two
weeks that we were boyfriend-girlfriend, or whatever you call it
at that age, I was too scared to speak," Kemper says. "So she
Kemper didn't hold a grudge against the family. He not only
helped Nick handle the spotlight on Sunday but also helped his
friend and training partner earn an Olympic berth. After winning
the first of USA Triathlon's two Olympic trials, on the Olympic
course in Sydney in April, Kemper guaranteed the U.S. men two
more spots by competing in several international events and
beefing up his World Cup point total before May 2, thus assuring
the U.S. of the maximum three slots.
Kemper didn't need to compete in Dallas, but the purse of $11,700
was nearly twice the biggest sum he'd ever won. He spent most of
the bike leg in a pack of five but pulled away in the run,
leaving the remaining U.S. berths to the next two Americans,
Radkewich in fourth and Ryan Bolton, another of Kemper's training
partners, in fifth.
The women's race on Saturday was testier and less predictable.
Barb Lindquist, the favorite, and Sheila Taormina, a swimming
gold medalist in the 4 X 200-meter freestyle relay at the 1996
Games, shared a one-minute lead in the 1.5-kilometer swim and
extended it to 3:30 in the bike phase as some in the trail pack
of 12 cyclists wondered why the stronger riders among them
weren't making a charge at the two leaders. Taormina surged
ahead in the 10-km run and crossed the line first in 2:05:27, 40
seconds ahead of Joanna Zeiger, an asthmatic who, because of the
humidity, needed eight puffs of Ventolin from her inhaler during
the race. Jennifer Gutierrez, who placed fifth in Dallas, had
already earned her Olympic berth in April.
Lindquist collapsed during the run and dropped out. "My core got
too hot, and my legs got the wobbles," she said while she
received fluids through an IV tube. Nearby, third-place finisher
Siri Lindley, on her own IV bag, spotted Lindquist and began
sobbing because her friend had failed to make the team. "Not
everyone on the bike wanted to race her heart out, and that's
sad," Lindley said. Taormina, who bought her first bike only two
years ago, said she was stunned to receive her first inquiries
from agents, including Lance Armstrong's rep, after the race,
and wasn't sure she was ready for the fast lane. "All I need,"
she said, "is to be sure that when I'm 80, I'll still have a
quilt to pull over me and food on the table."
A Woman at Home on Wheels
U.S. Cyclist Set for Sydney
Having just finished a 50-mile training ride in Palo Alto,
Calif., one day last week, Nicole Freedman, America's newest
cycling Olympian, barely noticed the race developing on the
outside of her van. Big Spider, the swifter sprinter, made a dash
toward the top of the van's side-view mirror but got caught in
the rust and stopped. Little Spider, the sturdier climber, slowly
scaled the mirror's edge and reached the summit first. His rival
having bailed out to an adjacent web, Little Spider was safely
home. So was Freedman.
"Here's my abode," said the 5'2" Freedman, 28, who has lived in
the 1978 Ford Econoline, which she parks in a friend's driveway,
since December 1996. "Here's the bedroom [she points to a
mattress in the back], kitchen [an unused burner], lounge [a
swivel chair with a frayed cover], library [books on the van's
front seat] and walk-in closet [cycling gear on the dash]. Best
of all, it's rent-free. Last year I even took it out on gas left
from '96. Ran O.K."
Freedman used to kick in $450 a month for a room in a converted
garage, but because she has only once made as much as $10,000 a
year, for the last four years she has used the former rent money
to help make payments against the $30,000 in student loans she
amassed while attending two colleges. She was never meant to be
an impoverished cyclist. Her father, Marvin, a math professor at
Boston University, told her, "I was afraid of having a boy
because I didn't know any sports. Then I got you."
Nicole spent two years at MIT, where, she says, "I played left
out on the basketball team and slept through computer science. In
fact, I snored--loud." She transferred to Stanford in 1992, became
a 5:04 miler on the Cardinal track team and earned a degree in
urban planning. In her senior year she started cross-training on
a borrowed bike and was hooked.
Freedman arrived as a long shot at last month's U.S. road cycling
trials in Jackson, Miss., where only the winner of the 64-mile
race was assured an Olympic berth. U.S. coaches will choose two
other cyclists in July. "My odds of making it as a coaches'
selection were less than zero," says Freedman, citing her
relative lack of experience. "I had to win." Freedman edged Pam
Schuster by a bike length. In a delirious postrace celebration
she lay face-down on the concrete, rocking her body and punching
the ground. That night she splurged on a double greaseburger,
fries, onion rings and a root-beer float. "Living the high life,"
Three months before the trials Freedman had signed with Charles
Schwab, the first sponsor to give her a salary in addition to
equipment and traveling expenses. Last year she also had become a
cycling-category manager for San Francisco-based venussports.com,
an E-commerce site that caters to women athletes and grants her
flexible work hours. As Freedman has already shown, she's quite
at home around web sites.
COLOR PHOTO: DAVID SAMS Kemper can afford some new togs after picking up $11,700 for cruising to victory in Dallas.
COLOR PHOTO: GERRY GROPP Van dweller Freedman's next temporary home will be the Olympic Village.
all in the GAMES
Want evidence that IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch is still
running the show in the wake of the bribery scandal that rocked
the committee in 1999? With Athens, which will host the 2004
Summer Games, running behind schedule (SI, May 1), Samaranch
pressured Greek premier Costas Simitis into appointing Gianna
Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the savvy, Harvard-educated head of the
city's bid committee, as the new chief of the organizing
committee. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, a conservative lawyer, had
been bypassed for the organizing committee post after Simitis, a
Socialist, took office in 1996....
Meanwhile, Samaranch won p.r. points by inviting U.S. taekwondo
athlete Esther Kim to attend the 2000 Games in Sydney as the
IOC's guest. Kim forfeited her final match at the U.S. trials
last month to friend Kay Poe, who had an injured knee but is a
much stronger medal contender than Kim would have been....
Look for two medical marvels at the U.S. rowing trials in
Camden, N.J., later this month. Dan Perkins, who will try to
make the team in double sculls with Ian McGowan, has
successfully battled brain cancer. Missy Schwen-Ryan, a 1996
silver medalist in the pairs with Karen Kraft, will try to make
the team, again with Kraft, after having donated a kidney
following the Atlanta Games to her brother Michael, who suffered
from a degenerative disease....
Seeing double in Canada: Carol Montgomery, who has already
earned a triathlon berth, will try to make the Canadian track
and field squad in the 10,000 meters later this month. Hayley
Wickenheiser, a silver medalist on Canada's ice hockey team at
the 1998 Nagano Olympics, is down to the final cuts for her
country's softball team....
Baylor track and field coach Clyde Hart recently sent a letter
of intent for the year 2018 to Sebastian Johnson, who was born
on May 6 to Michael Johnson (who has trained under Hart for 13
years) and his wife, Kerry....
Do you have any doubt that women's gymnastics is becoming more
womanly? Russia's Svetlana Khorkina, 21 years old and a shade
under 5'5", won four golds at the European Championships last
month. If she wins the all-around in Sydney, she'll be the
oldest to do so since 26-year-old, 5'3" Czech Vera Caslavska in