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Growth Curve for These Games Truly Olympian

July 19, 1996|SHAV GLICK

When the Centennial Olympic Games start today in Atlanta, there will be 10,800 athletes--about 3,800 of them women--from 197 nations competing in 26 sports.

There has been a lot of growth in 100 years. At the inaugural Games of the modern Olympics in Athens, 311 athletes--no women--from 13 nations competed in seven sports: track and field, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming and tennis.

Trivia time: How many countries have participated in all the Olympic Games since 1896?

The Straw stirs: What Darryl Strawberry said after recently rejoining the New York Yankees may have been disturbing to his parole officer, but you've got to admire his honesty.

"I've made a lot of mistakes, lived a high-profile life, bought a lot of cars, gambled, bought houses and got involved in drugs," Strawberry said. "I'm not ashamed of it and don't regret it."

Ads, ads, ads: Coca-Cola is spending $62 million for time on NBC to show its stuff. In 1992, it spent $33.4 million during the broadcast of the Barcelona Games.

"This is the largest and most diverse pool of ads ever used," said Sergio Zyman, Coke's chief marketer.

Looking back: On this day in 1957, Don Bowden became the first American to break the four-minute-mile mark with a 3:58.7 time at Stockton.

Ouch! From Houston Chronicle columnist Alan Truex: "In the eyes of the public, Tom Lasorda is a jovial, gregarious man, flinging batting practice at age 68, posing for pictures and signing autographs for whoever wants them.

"But there's another facet of the Lasorda personality that players and those who work with him see, and it's not so charming. The truth is, he has become a grumpy old man and many within the Los Angeles Dodger organization wish he would take his recent heart attack as a signal to retire."

Ageless worker: Charles Fram, 94, is the oldest volunteer at the Olympics. His job is handing out gift bags to the 15,000 people living at Georgia Tech during the Games.

"I'm always the oldest wherever I go," Fram said. "Nobody shows up for my class reunions anymore. They're all long gone. I don't bother looking in the obituary columns anymore."

When he tells people his age, "Sometimes it takes them two weeks to get over the scare," Fram joked.

You name it: The annual over-the-line tournament at Fiesta Island in San Diego is notable for the strange names of its teams. Among those at this year's 43rd event are "Nebraska's Cornhusker's Team Picture Is Taken From the Front and the Side," "Stone Hands and Lead Feet," "Drink 'Til He's Cute" and "I Will Forfeit for Beer."

Trivia answer: Four--Australia, Great Britain, Greece and Switzerland.

And finally: The San Diego Padres are the only team in baseball with players whose last names are mirror opposites: Rob Deer and Jody Reed.

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