Although track and field's image has been sullied by allegations that some world-class athletes have used performance-enhancing substances -- and sprinter Kelli White relinquished two world titles after acknowledging she had used banned drugs -- officials at the Home Depot Center in Carson are considering expanding their track and field offerings next year.
William Peterson, managing director of the complex, is involved in discussions to create a relays-only meet that would debut next year and, perhaps, a distance carnival and a throwing meet. The Home Depot Invitational track and field meet drew sellout crowds in its first two seasons in Carson, and the complex will be the site of the 2005 U.S. track and field championships and a 2006 World Cup meet.
"We're really bullish on track and field in L.A.," Peterson said. "We believe fans are focusing on the athletes who are showing up and racing.
"We believe in the sport. We believe in the athletes. I don't know what the final result [of the drug investigations] will be, but we've had nothing but fabulous reactions."
Peterson said talks were "pretty far down the road" for the relay meet, which would probably be held over two days late in March and encompass kids, high school and college athletes. Talks for a throwing meet in April that might also include distance races, the decathlon and heptathlon are not as far along.
"We think we could create something that, eventually, over time, would become similar to the Penn Relays," he said. "We're also looking at holding some clinics, as well."
His optimism, he said, was based on studying the number of track clubs in the area, as well as discussions with coaches and officials involved in high school track and field. He also said he hadn't encountered any backers reluctant to associate themselves with a sport that is embroiled in controversy.
"We have a lot of existing relationships with sponsors and they haven't been concerned," he said. "They're sponsoring the event, not an athlete. I don't get the sense that the track and field public is disillusioned."
The Home Depot Center is also positioning itself to become a focal point for track cycling, and this week opened the $13-million ADT Event Center for the U.S. junior elite track cycling team's practices. The U.S. junior track cycling championships will be held in the 2,500-seat indoor velodrome Wednesday through July 3, and admission will be free. That competition will be a rehearsal for the world junior track cycling championships, to be held there July 28 to Aug. 3.
The 2005 World Track Cycling Championships also will take place on the 250-meter track, the only indoor velodrome in the U.S. built to international standards. USA Cycling will have its national training headquarters there.
Have Bow, Will Travel
For Janet Dykman of El Monte, making the U.S. Olympic archery team hasn't gotten old after her third success.
"It gets a little more comfortable," she said, "but it's just as thrilling as the first one."
Dykman, 50, took up the sport after seeing a demonstration at the Pomona Fair. She competed at the Junior Olympic level but drifted away from the sport and didn't shoot for 12 years.
When she realized the 1984 Games were coming to Los Angeles, she bought tickets for the archery competition. Soon after, she was consulting the Yellow Pages for archery shops and rescuing her old equipment from her parents' house.
"It rekindled the flame of wanting to shoot," she said. "It was never in my mind that I'd be an Olympian."
But she was persuaded to enter a tournament in 1985 and the 1988 Olympic trials. She didn't make the Seoul team but decided to upgrade her equipment, which paid off the following year when she made the World Championships team. She hasn't missed a World team since. She was an Olympic alternate in 1992 and a member of the U.S. team that was eliminated in the first round at Atlanta in 1996, as well as the team that finished fifth at Sydney in 2000.
Along the way, she gave up working to focus on her sport. Ten years ago, she started her own business, making archery-related novelties such as jewelry, t-shirts and mugs, which she sells on her website, www.gotarrows.com. For the last two years she has also coached at Claremont-McKenna College.
"Money pretty much goes out faster than it comes in," she said. "Financially, it's difficult. I definitely do it for the love of the sport."
Here and There
The Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, which was funded with surplus money from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, this week announced 34 grants and expenditures totaling more than $1.9 million to benefit youth sports programs in Southern California. In the last two decades, the AAF has spent more than $140 million on youth sports activities that have benefited 2 million children.
The largest of the most recent grants was $365,700 given to LA's Best, to fund year-round after-school sports programs at 112 Los Angeles Unified School District elementary schools.
The late John C. Argue, who led the successful bid that brought the Olympics to Los Angeles in 1984, will be honored with a memorial plaque in the court of honor at the Coliseum, to be unveiled Monday at 4 p.m.
The Greek Olympic softball team, announced Thursday, has more players from Southern California than from Greece. Players with somewhat loose ties to Greece include sisters Jessica and Lindsey Bashor of Riverside, Vanessa Czarnecki of Riverside, sisters Jamie and Sarah Farnworth and their cousin, Stacey Farnworth, all of Upland; Joanna Gail of Poway, Kristen Karanzias of Yorba Linda and Stephanie Skegas-Maxwell of Torrance. Only two women list Greece as home: Joanna Bouziou of Corfu and Katerina Koutougkou of Athens.
UCLA sophomore Kate Richardson will compete at the Canadian Olympic gymnastics trials July 10-11 in Calgary. UCLA Coach Valorie Kondos Field plans to coach Richardson at that competition.
Only 49 days until the Athens Summer Games.