Olympic Games: Diary - Beating the pain to blow the whistle

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Date: Sept. 23, 2000
Publisher: MGN Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 549 words

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It's not only athletes who have busted a gut to get to the Sydney Olympics - Australia hockey umpire Don Prior has done virtually that and more.

In March, the 45-year-old pulled a hamstring. Recovered, he then tore a calf muscle undergoing a fitness test just prior to the Champions Trophy in Amsterdam in mid-May.

A day later he was bitten on the elbow by a spider, the arm swelled up and he was in hospital for two days.

A week after returning to Australia he woke at 4am to answer the phone, tripped over the dog, smashed into a coffee table and broke five ribs.

'I was wondering whether I'd make it to the Olympics,' said Prior. 'Two weeks ago my knee became totally inflamed and the doctors drained 100ml of fluid from it.'

Fatema A Hameed Gerashi of Bahrain, who celebrated her 12th birthday in March, swam the 50 metres freestyle in 51.15secs.

'It felt great,' she said.

'But I was very scared on the blocks. My heart was going very fast. I was thinking about all the training I'd done and trying to make my family happy.'

She was disqualified for wobbling after the starter put the swimmers on their marks.

Australian national basketball team forward Chris Anstey, going against the wishes of the Chicago Bulls by playing in the Olympics this summer, was released by the club yesterday.

The National Basketball Association club spoiled the party for a player who contributed in his country's last-minute win over Russia, a victory which kept the Aussies' medal hopes alive after they had opened the Olympics with two defeats on the trot.

Anstey, as a reserve for the past three years, two of them spent with the Dallas Mavericks, has earned pounds 4 million.

Another Australian national team player, Luc Longley, the centre on three NBA Championship winning sides in the 90s, was yesterday traded to the New York Knicks.

Another swimmer from Equatorial Guinea shot to fame at the Olympics yesterday when Paula Barila Bolopa plodded through the 50m freestyle at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre.

Similar to her compatriot, Eric Moussambani, who looked as if he were in danger of drowning in the second half of his 100m freestyle race earlier in the week, she was breathtakingly slow, touching the wall in 1min 03.97secs.

'It was further than I thought,' Barila Bolopa said.

'I wasn't in it for the race. I'm here to train and learn how to swim better. I want to go to Athens and do better there.'

The 20-year-old, who learned to swim in the river where she still does part of her training, was greeted by a mob of reporters who had been primed by Moussambani's slow but inspirational performance.

The Games are nearly at the halfway point but it appears that one or two bleary overseas hacks are still struggling to come to terms with the time difference.

San Diego Tribune's Nick Canepa wrote: 'The time difference had me discombobulated for a while but the closing ceremony was terrific.'

Singapore Airlines' in-flight magazine promotes the Games with a cover shot of various sports at the Sydney Olympics.

It was no surprise to see runners, divers, cyclists and high jumpers featured but the ice skaters came as a bit of a surprise.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A65455203