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SPORTS EXTRA: SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Games Within Games

These Events Might Not Be Ready for Prime Time, but Try Telling That to the Competitors

September 10, 2000|HELENE ELLIOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

William Tell, according to legend, sent an arrow through an apple perched atop his son's head. Olympic archers don't have quite the same challenge, but it's close: they must hit a 4-foot-wide target from 70 meters away. The closer to the approximately 4 3/4-inch bull's-eye, the more points awarded.

Competition will be held in men's individual, women's individual, men's team and women's team. In the individual events, each of the 64 competitors shoots a 72-arrow preliminary round. All advance to match play, with the highest qualifier facing the lowest, the second-highest against the 63rd, etc. Competitors shoot 18 arrows until the quarterfinals, when they each shoot 12 arrows.

Rules are the same in men's and women's individual competitions. The top 16 teams, based on scores from the individual open round, will advance to single-elimination match play. The three team members take turns shooting three arrows in one minute.

Justin Huish of Simi Valley, an individual and team gold medalist at Atlanta in 1996, withdrew from the U.S. team after being charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Denise Parker of Salt Lake City, who was the youngest U.S. Olympian at the 1988 Seoul Games at 14 and won a bronze medal in the team competition, ended a two-year retirement and will compete at Sydney. Karen Scavotto of Enfield, Conn., a five-time junior national champion, is the youngest U.S. entrant at 18.

The host nation has won the men's team event in each of the previous three Olympics, but Australia isn't considered a top team. The United States, Italy, Korea, France and the Netherlands are expected to vie for medals. South Korea has won each of the three women's team gold medals, but Italy, Turkey, Germany and China are expected to contend.

Badminton

According to David Wallechinsky's "The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics," the 16 feathers atop the shuttlecock--the cork-tipped, leather-covered object that is hit back and forth by players--come from one goose, and usually from the creature's left wing. That's because the left is considered stronger, which the feathers must be in order to be attached to an object that flies at speeds of 150 mph on a 44-foot-long court.

Competition is held in men's singles, men's doubles, women's singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles. The winner must get 15 points, except in women's singles, when 11 points win. Asian players have dominated since the sport was added to the Olympic program in 1992.

The only American to qualify is Kevin Han of Colorado Springs, Colo. Born in Shanghai, Han emigrated to the United States with his family in 1989 and made his living as a busboy and delivery boy at a Chinese restaurant. He won his first national title in 1994--the same year he got his U.S. citizenship. He lost in the first round of the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

Peter Gade Christensen of Denmark and Sun Jun of China, who have dominated the world rankings in recent years, are expected to vie for the men's gold medal.

Canoeing

There are two types of events: kayaking, in which the competitor paddles with a blade on each end and alternates paddling on the right and left sides, and Canadian canoeing, in which the competitor's paddle has only one blade.

One person canoes, and kayaks are about 17 feet long, two-person boats are about 21 feet long and the four-person kayaks are about 36 feet long. Canoes are wider and heavier and have no rudder. Canoeists use a single-blade paddle and take a semi-kneeling stance. Kayaks are not as wide as canoes. Kayakers sit and use a double-bladed paddle.

The slalom events are much like slalom ski races. Canoeists must navigate an obstacle course that may include 25 gates, and they must negotiate at least six upstream. Competitors go through each course twice, and the better run in terms of time and penalty points will count. Men compete in 12 events, including pairs and fours, while women compete in only four events, two singles, one pairs and one fours.

Events are held on flatwater and white-water courses. On the white-water course, which will be a natural course, each competitor will negotiate the course twice and both runs will be added to determine the score. All races will be at Penrith Lakes, at the foot of the Blue Mountains and about 25 miles from downtown Sydney.

Numerical suffixes, such as K-1 or C-2, indicate whether the event is for individual, pairs of fours.

Cycling

Two-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who has helped make Americans aware of a sport that is revered in Europe, hopes to add a gold medal to his resume. He was sixth in the time trial and 12th in the road race in 1996 at Atlanta, two months before he was diagnosed as having testicular cancer that had spread throughout his body.

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