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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | BILL PLASCHKE

Lost in the Translation Is the Actual Meaning

July 29, 1996|BILL PLASCHKE

Everybody else in Atlanta this month has a translator. Why shouldn't you be?

Janet Evans on rumors about swimming rival Michelle Smith using performance-enhancing drugs: "If you are asking if the accusations are out there, I would say that yes, they are."

What do I have do, rent a plane and write in the sky for you? I've seen grunge bands who were doing less drugs.

Smith, in response: "I've put my heart and soul into training. All I do is eat, sleep and train."

Yeah, Janet, as opposed to your routine of eat, eat and eat.

Amanda Beard after the 200 breaststroke: "I saw second place, and that's perfect for me."

I have never been more embarrassed in all my life. The only person in America who is still calling me a sweetheart is Jim Gray, and he calls everybody a sweetheart.

Bela Karolyi to gymnast Kerri Strug before her celebrated sore-legged vault that, everyone thought, secured a U.S. team gold medal: "We need another! We need a 9.6!"

I need another! I need a 9.6! Not you, you little baby. Me! If you blow my chance at carrying your scrawny butt to the victory stand and becoming an American hero again, I'll turn you into a milk dud.

Strug on the vault: "I felt like I had to do it. I felt I owed it to everyone."

I knew if I wimped out, I would not qualify for the all-around individual championships, and that's where the real bucks are.

Strug, when announcing she will forsake pro gymnastics for UCLA: "I'm going to ease out of it. Go to college, still do it a little, but also prepare for the future."

Open your wallets, you pinhead gymnastic promoters. If you want me now, I'm strictly Cash 'n' Kerri.

Strug, only one day later, reconsidering her announcement to attend UCLA: "We've gotten a lot of exciting offers . . . but I really need to discuss it and think about it, because I don't want to do anything rash."

Don't chicken out now, promoters. For an extra mil over what we talked about yesterday, I can be as rash as a kid in poison ivy.

Lenny Wilkens, Dream Team coach, on talking to his team about the allegedly increased quality of Olympic opponents: "We said it over and over: The gap is narrowing."

I've told my players, "At least act like you care against these clowns. Would it hurt for someone besides Stockton to actually cheer from the bench? How hard is it to occasionally look at the scoreboard?"

Chris Humbert was among 13 U.S. water polo players who marched in opening ceremonies while most of the Italians stayed home. The next day Italy won, 10-7, and Humbert said: "Who knows whether it made a difference? I do know that the Italians aren't enjoying their Olympic experience like we are."

We stunk then. We stink now. But hey, the single greatest thing about competing in the Olympics is that you can always deflect blame by accusing the other team of being unpatriotic.

A.D. Frazier, ACOG chief operating officer, on the charge that nobody from his group has spoken to John Hawthorne, husband of bombing victim Alice: "Is that the case? I'm sorry. I didn't know that to be true, and I'm glad to have that brought to my attention, if so."

Dang. We knew we could get away with ignoring the Greek guy, but we miscalculated on this yahoo.

Jerry Dusenberry, USA Boxing president, after top boxers Zahir Raheem and Fernando Vargas were defeated amid accusations of cheating: "I don't think there was blatant corruption or anything was askew."

Our guys went paws up, and heads are going to roll.

Lindsay Davenport on tennis teammate Monica Seles: "She's unbelievable with fans. In the village, a lot of people ask her for autographs and she signs every one. I know I don't have that kind of patience."

Maybe if I keep kissing up to her, when these Games are over she'll let me beat her.

Michele Verdier, spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee, on the game's transportation problems: "These Games are the greatest ever, with all countries with national Olympic committees taking part for the first time."

We know everybody out there is comparing this to the last U.S.-based Olympics in Los Angeles. And we know there is no comparison. So we've agreed to put out this one and only alibi for the snotty Atlanta organizers:

They have more teams. Los Angeles was blessed with a boycott. Don't blame it on Billy Payne, blame it on the Russians.

Linda Hanley, U.S. beach volleyball player, on those who joke about their bikini suits: "We're not offended. Those are our uniforms; that's our office. It'd be difficult to play in pantyhose and pumps."

You think anybody would watch us if we dressed like real volleyball players?

Chris Humbert was among 13 U.S. water polo players who marched in opening ceremonies while most of the Italians stayed home. The next day Italy won, 10-7, and Humbert said:

' Who knows whether it made a difference? I do know that the Italians aren't enjoying their Olympic experience like we are.'

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