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� 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 dropped me."
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."
U.S. Cyclist Set for Sydney
A Woman at Home on Wheels
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."