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THE 1987 PAN AMERICAN GAMES : Notes : Reducing Buehning's Suspension to 3 Games Seems a Little Suspect

August 13, 1987|RANDY HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS — A U.S. team handball player, James Buehning, committed such a flagrant foul in a game last weekend that even his mother thought he should be suspended.

After Buehning, a member of the 1984 Olympic team, slapped a Canadian player, who reportedly had provoked the response, the U.S. player was suspended for the rest of the Pan American Games.

"I do feel punishment was warranted," said his mother, Renate Buehning, chairman of the U.S. women's team handball program. "But we feel this was a drastic decision."

She had something more like a three-game suspension in mind, which is what Buehning got after an appeal by the U.S. Team Handball Federation.

The president of the Pan American Team Handball Federation is Dr. Peter G. Buehning, James' father.

Canadian Coach Andy Mezey called the reduction in the suspension "a real joke."

Cuban President Fidel Castro, watching the Pan American Games on television in Havana, sent a congratulatory telegram to two Cuban weightlifters who won medals Tuesday.

Even though Cuba has won more medals than any country other than the United States, Castro chose the two weightlifters because they beat a Cuban defector competing for the United States.

Roberto Urrutia, a three-time world champion for Cuba before defecting to the United States in 1979, finished third in the middleweight class behind gold medalist Pablo Lara and runner-up Francisco Allegues.

Castro said the two Cuban lifters gave Urrutia an "exemplary lesson."

He also complained about the press conference held for Urrutia following the competition, saying that "presenting this ex-patriot at the Pan American Games was a shameless provocation" against Cuba.

For a change, Carl Lewis was too eager to meet the press Wednesday.

Lewis, who has not always been accessible to reporters, was scheduled for a press conference today. He has entered the long jump and the 400 relay.

He apparently got his days mixed up, though, and arrived at the press center Wednesday, to find nobody waiting for him.

A United States Olympic Committee press officer escorted Lewis out of the building, asking him to come again in 24 hours.

They are not exactly knocking down the fences to get into a lot of the events here, but organizers said Wednesday that ticket sales are right on pre-Games projections.

Ted Boehm, chairman of PAX-I (Pan Am 10-Indianapolis), the organizing group, said that ticket sales have reached $7.39 million and two more sessions have been sold out.

The two new sold-out sessions are Friday and Saturday roller skating. They came on the heels of three taekwondo sellouts, perhaps proving once again that it's impossible to figure public tastes.

The best attended single session, through Tuesday's competition, was the first U.S. basketball game, which drew 8,709. Basketball that same day yielded the best single day for one sport, a two-session total of 10,335.

The worst attended single session was a shooting event Monday, which attracted 195.

The official quote sheet from Roberto Urrutia's heavily attended press conference Tuesday had a revealing little touch.

Urrutia, the weightlifter who had defected from Cuba, answered a question in the press session about how much he had communicated with his family in Cuba. The press sheet released afterward said: "I try to call my mom once in a while, but it's hard to communicate by phone."

What he really said was, "I try to call my mom once in a while, but it's hard to communicate by AT&T."

Guess who one of the Pan Am Games sponsors is?

Add Urrutia: The former Cuban weightlifter who won a bronze medal for the United States, never did make it absolutely clear where he stood on the relative gains and sacrifices of defecting as he fielded questions at his chaotic press conference.

To one frustrated reporter, he said, "You want to know more about me, read People magazine."

So we await the new issue.

Greg Louganis, the only American diver competing on both boards at the Pan Am Games, was practicing with Wendy Wyland Wednesday afternoon, preparing for this weekend's 10-meter platform competition.

Asked whether he liked the platform over the 3-meter, on which he won a gold medal Monday night, Louganis explained that springboard competition is probably more difficult because no two boards respond exactly the same way. A 10-meter platform, he said, is always 10 meters above the water, and it doesn't go anywhere.

Then he added, "But 10 meters hurts."

There they were, a couple of old rivals at a U.S. party for Pan Am boxing coaches and officials, standing together in a corner, two of the most successful coaches in recent Olympic history.

One was Pat Nappi, retired as a coach but still an adviser with the USA Amateur Boxing Federation. The other was Alcides Sagarra, Cuba's coach since the 1976 Olympics.

Neither speaks the other's language, so they chatted quietly through an interpreter. Suddenly, Nappi broke up, laughing. Later, he explained what was so funny.

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