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Original Issue


Town Of Tears
A Charlotte sportscaster is becoming an expert in broadcasting
sports sorrow

Harold Johnson led his sportscast with tragedy last Friday night.
As he had the night before. As he has far too many evenings in
Charlotte during the last few years.

"Tonight it's [driver] Kenny Irwin's death, and last night it was
[former Panthers running back] Fred Lane," said Johnson, 59, the
dean of Charlotte sportscasters, who has worked at ABC affiliate
WSOC-TV for the past 20 years. "I feel more like a news anchor
these days, considering how often I appear near the top of the

NASCAR driver Adam Petty's fatal accident during a practice run.
Hornets guard Bobby Phills's death after speeding in his sports
car. Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth's murder charge. Hornets
owner George Shinn's sexual assault trial. Hurricanes defenseman
Steve Chaisson's fatal auto accident. Former Panthers quarterback
Kerry Collins's DUI. Hornets forward Anthony Mason's various
scrapes with the law. Johnson can recite the doleful roll call of
bad news involving local sports personalities. "I'll admit that
it is an inordinate amount [of incidents] for a city this size,"
says Johnson. "But is it an indictment of Charlotte? No."

Have the recent events jaded him? "I'm an upbeat person," replies
Johnson. Besides, although he reported on the deaths of Irwin and
Lane on Friday, Johnson also rolled tape of Mason's press
conference held earlier that day on the player's driveway.
Arrested on July 3 in New Orleans for resisting arrest and
inciting a riot, Mason wanted to announce that this most recent
brush with the law would be his last. "I hope so," says Johnson.
"I'd love to devote more of my three minutes per show to
sports." --J.W.

A Site to See

Middle-distance runner Marla Runyan may be the only athlete
competing at this week's U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials who
designed her own Web page. What makes even more
impressive is that its creator is legally blind. "I thought, If
someone else can design a Web site, then so can I," says Runyan,
31, who will compete in the 1,500 and/or 5,000 meters in

Runyan was born with a degenerative retinal condition known as
Stargardt's Disease, which has left her with 20/300 vision in her
left eye and 20/400 in her right. (A color photo of her left eye
at age nine is located on her "vision" link.) A two-time
Paralympic gold medalist, Runyan finished 10th in the 1,500 at
last year's world championships in Seville and was bombarded with
media requests. "A friend suggested that I create a Web site so
that I wouldn't have to explain my vision problems over and
over," she says.

Last January, Runyan registered her domain name, then taught
herself Web design with the Symantec Visual Page program. She
also needed to use ZoomText Extra 7.0, software that enlarges
what appears on the screen. Runyan updates her site twice weekly
and provides a personal touch, complete with photos of her golden
retriever, Summer, and a "Mom Click Here" link. After being
inundated with E-mails, she had second thoughts about having
included a "Write to Me" link. "I've gone from 'Ooh, somebody
wrote me,' to 'Ah geez, somebody wrote me,'" she says.

During the trials (July 14-23) Runyan will not update her site.
To keep track of her and other Olympic hopefuls, your best bet is The site plans to wire world-record holder
Michael Johnson and record his heart rate during the 400-meter
final and again during his much anticipated showdown against
Maurice Greene in the 200. "What we discovered during a test run
at the Penn Relays," says NBC spokesman Mike McCarley, "is that
Michael's heart is beating faster just before the race than at
any time during the race."

Considering what's on the line--when he's on the starting line and
you're on-line--can you blame him? --J.W.

COLOR PHOTO: JEFFERY A. SALTER/SABA Though legally blind, Runyan (left) created the look of her Web page.

If Euro 2000 whetted your appetite for soccer outside the States,
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