U.S. loses a medal candidate, IOC corruption fallout, and more notes
Dwight Phillips, a 2004 gold medalist, will miss Games with Achilles tendon injury
London Olympics ticket scandal could have far-reaching effects on the IOC
Also: U.S. names cycling team; Archery coach receives extension; and more
The injury bug bit an Olympic medal candidate last week when long jumper Dwight Phillips pulled out of the Olympic trials because of a recurring injury. Phillips, 34, a four-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist in 2004, underwent Achilles tendon surgery on Friday. He was among the notable absentees from the Olympic team in Beijing after he finished fourth at the trials four years ago. The CFO of an Atlanta-based media business, Phillips said he was not planning to retire because of the injury and hopes to return next season.
The ticket scandal that has stained the London Games may have far-reaching effects on the IOC membership, allocations for future Games and the inconsistent reputation of the IOC. IOC President Jacques Rogge is said to be furious about the revelations, and both London 2012 Chairman Seb Coe and Dennis Oswald, the head of the London coordination commission, have called for a ban on any Olympic activities for anyone confirmed to have participated in the scandal. Rogge came into office on the heels of the Salt Lake bid scandal that exposed years of corruption by IOC members who traded their votes for gifts, scholarships, jobs and other favors. Word surfaced this week that 27 officials and agents representing 54 countries were suspected. Greece's Spyros Capralos, the President of the Hellenic Olympic committee, has already denied allegations attached to him after he was caught on camera saying he had "pulled strings" with Coe to purchase more seats at face value that he could then sell for profit. Plans for ticket sales to the next Winter Olympics in Sochi were suspended, pending the investigation.
The U.S. cycling team on Saturday named five riders, including former track cycling whiz Taylor Phinney and Chris Horner, to the London Olympic team in the road and time trial events. But curiously, four cyclists, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer, requested individually that their names not be put forward for nomination. None of the four, all former teammates of Lance Armstrong with the U.S. Postal team, would comment on their requests. Hincapie, a five-time Olympian who will turn 39 later this month, has said he plans to retire after the London Games. He won three national road race titles and was often a support rider for Lance Armstrong during the mountain stages of the Tour de France. 60 Minutes reported last year that Hincapie told authorities he and Armstrong supplied one another with performance enhancing drugs. Hincapie denied making those statements. The Tour de France ends on July 22 this summer and the men's road race in London is scheduled for July 28.
The Olympics are weeks away, but the U.S. archery team is already rewarding its head coach for recent success. Last week, USA Archery announced a contract extension for Kisik Lee, coach of world No. 1 Brady Ellison, through 2016. Lee was previously head coach of the Korean archery team and also coached Australia's Simon Fairweather, the Olympic champion in 2000. Three years later, Fairweather was chosen to lead the Australian archery team. Lee, who became head coach of U.S. Olympic Archery Training Program in 2006, is known for creating a 12-step national training system based on analysis of body control, muscle requirements and concentrations skills that is followed by all certified U.S. archery coaches. It runs from stance to drawing and anchoring the arrow to release and follow through.
Margaux Isaksen, the country's top modern pentathlete, returned to action last weekend, finishing fifth at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Saturday. Isaksen earned an Olympic berth last year when she won the Pan-Am Games in Guadalajara, but she has been sidelined for most of the season with mononucleosis. She was in third place before the shooting-running portion of the event and then fell two places. Olympic champion Lena Schoneborn of Germany won the competition.
There will be more than one queen at the London Games this summer. Lightweight boxer Queen Underwood learned this week that she was granted an Olympic berth by a tripartite commission of AIBA, the sport's international governing body. Underwood failed to earn an automatic berth at the world championships in May. She will join Marlen Esparza and Claressa Shields on the U.S. team as women's boxing makes its Olympic debut. Underwood said Tuesday that Esparza called her immediately after she heard the announcement. "I was like a helium balloon and I was slowly deflating," she said. "Now I got my air back."
It was a sad day for rowers Silas Stafford and Tom Peszek when they learned they were the final cuts from the Olympic men's eights boat that will row in London. But with the pairs spot still to be decided by time rather than selection, the two figured they'd buck the odds and try their luck with each other in a new boat. At the recent Olympic trials for small boats on Mercer Lake in New Jersey, Stafford and Peszek outrowed 14 other boats to earn their Olympic spot. Ken Jurkowski won the men's single sculls events and Sara Hendershot and Sarah Zelenka took the spot in the women's pair.