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  • Pan Am Torch Relay; Denver 2022; South African Olympic Meeting


    08/29/11

    The ATR Olympic Newsdesk
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    Somber Start to Pan Am Torch Relay

    The flame of Guadalajara 2011 is en route around Mexico after a torch-lighting ceremony at the ancient Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan.
    Friday’s torch-lighting ceremony paused to honor the victims of a mass shooting in Monterrey the day before. (COPAG)

    "The Pan American Torch journey through the entire country starts today as a calling to all Mexicans to renew our commitment to build a better country, a free and safer country,” Jalisco governor Emilio Gonzalez Marquez told Friday’s crowd of Games organizers, sporting officials, politicians and students.

    The otherwise festive atmosphere was interrupted briefly by a moment of silence honoring the 52 victims of a casino shooting the day before in Monterrey, one the worst crimes to date in Mexico’s ongoing drug war.

    More than 3,200 torchbearers will carry the flame for an average of almost 300 meters along the 50-day tour of 38 cities.

    The journey ends Oct. 14 in Guadalajara, where athletes from 42 countries will compete across 36 sports in what will be the largest multi-discipline event of the year as well as a qualifier for 15 of the 26 sports on the London Olympic program.

    Denver Eyes 2020 Bid

    The only city to ever give up Olympic hosting rights seems serious about bidding for the 2022 Games.

    Denver’s mayor Michael Hanckock met with Colorado governor John Hickenlooper to discuss a 2022 bid.
    Denver is nestled among the Rocky Mountains just 70 miles from USOC headquarters. (Getty Images)

    "We know what we are capable of doing in Denver; the question is now – do we test it on the Olympics?" Hancock was quoted by The Denver Post. "We are ready to take our rightful place on the global stage. Certainly nothing would help us do that greater than the Olympics in 2022."

    Denver was awarded the 1976 Olympics. In 1972, taxpayers had enough of the escalating costs and kicked the Games out of the Mile High City.
     
    There’s no need to worry about a similar fate now, Hancock claims.

    "Denver is a much different city today than it was in 1972. We have proven ourselves to be able to host a global event of this caliber."
     
    One key stakeholder, the U.S. Olympic Committee, needs to be convinced Denver should bid. The USOC said a 2022 bid is not on the radar after passing on the 2020 race.
     
    What may work in Denver's favor is that it's only a short drive away from the USOC, based in Colorado Springs.
     
    Hancock stressed that citizens shouldn’t get too excited for a bid. The reluctance from the USOC to bid, the current state of the economy and the very nascent discussions all mean a bid is still a long ways from being approved.

    “United Front” in South African Olympic Committee

    South Africa’s Olympic committee, SASCOC, is presenting a “united front” following its annual general meeting.

    The highlight of the weekend's proceedings was a Saturday meeting where the 22 federations that comprise SASCOC formed a strategic plan to promote sport in South Africa. The three ways this would be done come from improving school sport infrastructure, making sport more accessible to the public and strengthening sport clubs.
     
    Deputy sports minister Gert Oosthuizen emphasized that the national government would be in support of SASCOC’s work.
     
    “This is not about individuals, everyone must take responsibility” he said in a wrap-up posted to SASCOC’s website. “We’re not re-designing the wheel here. This will be a principle sporting plan underpinned by a sound funding model.”

    SASCOC chief Gideon Sam said there will be no freeloaders on the 2012 team.
    South Africa sent 136 athletes to the Beijing Olympics. (Getty Images)

    “Gone are the days when we thought nothing of taking teams of 300 to the Olympics,” he said. “We we’re kidding ourselves. Now there may only be 30 athletes, who knows, but there will be no passengers.”

    “After Beijing 2008 where we only got one medal we realized we didn’t have enough money but since then we’ve put millions into our OPEX program to nurture our Olympic athletes.”

    SASCOC set a goal of 12 medals in London.

    “It’s stressful but we’re still holding on to our goals. We’re already into the qualification process for 2012 and our athletes are falling by the wayside and only one canoeist, Bridgitte Hartley, has qualified for sure.”

    New Generations for Peace Scholarship

    The King Abdullah II of Jordan Generations for Peace Scholarship Program is extending its reach to the University of Oxford in time for the 2012 academic year.

    “This latest collaboration will connect our Pioneers and delegates on the ground with the finest academic minds in the field,” said Generations for Peace founder and chairman Prince Feisal Al Hussein, also an IOC member from Jordan.
    Around the Rings was on the scene in Amman earlier this year for the dedication of Generations for Peace's new headquarters. (ATR)

    "A library in Oxford may seem a world away from a refugee camp in Pakistan, but together we are working towards an identical goal: bringing lasting peace to communities blighted by conflict, through the power of sport.”

    Already a fixture at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., the scholarship supports postgraduate students intending to conduct research into sport for peace and development.

    Candidates for the inaugural Oxford scholarship will be shortlisted early next year. The winner will be notified in March and begin study in September.

    False-Start Poll

    Should the IAAF change its rule of “one false start and you’re out” in the wake of Usain Bolt's disqualification from the 100m in Daegu? Visit ATR's blog to vote in our latest poll.

    Media Watch

    The Guardian newspaper re-tells the story of Sohn Kee Chung, a Korean who won the 1936 marathon gold medal while competing for Japan.

    Scotland’s The Daily Record gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at 2014 Commonwealth Games preparations.

    More than the Games’ James Toney writes that the IAAF must amend its false start rule in light of Usain Bolt’s DQ from the world championships this weekend. “Usain Bolt is almost single-handedly dragging the sport back into the black and while over 2,000 athletes have gathered in Daegu, it's virtually a one-man show,” he says.

    Erase all women’s world records in athletics, so says Slate’s Edward McLelland. In decades past, he says, female athletes were tainted with performance-enhancing treatments and drugs. “The sanctity of the record book is a touchy subject because of the implication that the sport's immortals used steroids,” he claims, adding there is “plenty of circumstantial evidence” to back him up.

    Written by Matthew Grayson and Ed Hula III.

    For general comments or questions, click here.

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