Another story to keep an eye on during the Summer Games is the love match between Jiao Zhimin, of the Chinese Olympic table tennis team, and Ahn Jae Hyung, a rising table tennis star from South Korea who will be playing doubles for the home team this year. It is a tale as old as Romeo and Juliet, about love thwarted by circumstances of birth, with the governments of South Korea and China playing the roles of the Montagues and Capulets.
Ahn and Jiao met four years ago at the seventh Asian Table Tennis Championships, in Islamabad, Pakistan, and fell in love. Jiao is the No. 4 women's player in the world, a possible Olympic medalist in both singles and doubles. The two have exchanged love letters, one of which was even printed in a Seoul newspaper. "Let us endure brief parting for the sake of achieving the wishes of ourselves and our two families," Jiao wrote to Ahn. "So long as we have a clear belief our efforts thus far will not have been in vain...." The Korean press speculates now that the two will marry after the Olympics if their governments will allow it. All of that is highly problematic, however, because China and South Korea don't have diplomatic relations.
Some Koreans see this romance as scandalous, not only because Jiao is from China, but also because she is one year older than the 24-year-old Ahn. The story has fueled so much gossip in the Korean press that last November, Ahn pleaded that the couple be left alone.
With the South Korean media awash in news of the romance, Ahn felt compelled to deny that he and Jiao were ever really involved, claiming instead that she was (sigh) just someone he had met a few times. But the story may have a happy ending after all. In the true spirit of the Games, International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch has offered to intervene diplomatically with the Chinese government on the couple's behalf. Perhaps the Olympic rings won't be the only ones flying this September in Seoul.
HOW 'BOUT THEM DOGS?
When Georgia Tech basketball coach Bobby Cremins learned recently that the supplier who caters his summer camp hadn't shown up with food for 450 hungry campers, he sent camp director Frank Beall to The Varsity, a popular off-campus drive-in. Beall strolled casually up to the counter and ordered 450 dogs and fries. To go.
One of the things that make habitu�s of The Varsity feel as if they have entered someplace slightly foreign is that a different language is spoken in the eatery. The unflappable countermen never merely call out for a plain hot dog to go; they order a "nekkid dog walkin'," and a local delicacy called a frosted orange is simply an F.O. But when Tech's coach needed 450 dogs walkin', the counterman was aghast, but then he said, "For Bobby Cremins, we'll do it."
When Cremins arrived 20 minutes later to speed things up, he jumped behind the counter and started loading his arms with dogs and fries to deliver them to the campers. And though his career as a delivery boy was brief, it was distinguished. The campers went to bed that night feeling as if they had made The Varsity.
THE CURTAIN FALLS ON RISEN STAR
Louie Roussel III, the Coowner and trainer of Risen Star, announced two weeks ago that the splendid colt was through as a racehorse. Roussel said Risen Star was retired because a suspensory ligament he injured during a routine workout in late May was healing too slowly to make it safe to race the horse any further. Others suspect the real reason is the ailment that all too commonly afflicts owners of fast thoroughbreds: that is, an overwhelming desire to take the money and run. Or in this case, not run at all. Ever again.