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The Lebanese team members—two tennis players, six track and field athletes and seven swimmers—pleaded with officials to let them participate in the games. After 11 hours of negotiation, the officials relented, but for the swimmers it was too late—the heats in their sport had already begun. So the swimmers asked the organizers to allow them to participate in some track and field events.
Hatim el-Gheziani, a Libyan who is working with the Lebanese team to help it navigate through red tape (help it could certainly use), said, "They [the swimmers] have not even thought what events they would take part in, but it would have to be something not much outside of their capabilities. Certainly nothing like pole vaulting."
Jaklys, Lebanon's national champion in the women's 100-meter freestyle and 100 backstroke, thought she might run in the women's 400. "My hope coming here was to do well," said Jaklys. "Now it is not to embarrass myself." As of Sunday, the swimmers still hadn't found events, but there were four days of competition left.
The Lebanese swimmers were not the only disappointed people at the University Games. During the opening ceremonies, the torch was extinguished when torchbearer Helen Sharman, a British astronaut, tripped and fell. Then, during the rhythmic gymnastics competition, 28 contestants received point deductions because their outfits were too skimpy.
But the most disappointed figure of all was Gailan Alkaf, the lone athlete from Yemen. When officials asked him what sport he had entered, he said, "Soccer."
Don Wardlow calls a good game, even if he can't see it
From where Don Wardlow sits, hunched in a corner of the radio booth at Pompano Beach Municipal Stadium, you can't see leftfield. Or third base. Or home, for that matter. But that doesn't bother Wardlow, color commentator for the Miami Miracle, an independent team in the Class A Florida State League. That's because Wardlow has been blind since birth.
A handicap? Check out Wardlow and his Seeing Eye dog, a Labrador named Gizmo, as they navigate the treacherous staircase to the rooftop press box. "The staircase is the least of my worries," says Wardlow, who's been aiming for a job like this since he became attached to the voices of Mets broadcasters Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner as a kid growing up in New Jersey.
Wardlow, 28, spends hours before each game in front of a Braille typewriter, pounding out tidbits and stats gleaned from a tape his partner, play-by-play announcer Jim (Tiny) Lucas, has put together for him. Wardlow opens the show, sets the stage for each half-inning and leads into commercial breaks: "Brought to you by Hop Too's Chinese Restaurant. When you want that great Chinese food, hop to it!"