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A message for 1,500 Olympians The Summer Games of...

June 17, 2008|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

A message for 1,500 Olympians

The Summer Games of Special Olympics Southern California were held last weekend at Long Beach State, attracting 1,500 athletes and more than 2,000 volunteers.

The keynote speaker at the event's Breakfast With Champions Saturday was Peter Carruthers, who with sister Kitty won four national figure skating titles and a silver medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.

Carruthers said the Special Olympics motto -- "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt" -- applied to him and his sister.

"Two years in a row at nationals, we finished in last place," Carruthers said. "And our father said, 'I don't know if this is going to work.' "

But it did. Peter and Kitty Carruthers were inducted into the Skating Hall of Fame in 1999.

Trivia time

What American figure skater, who later became a television commentator, won the gold medal in the men's singles at Sarajevo?

Bonus: Who won the gold in women's singles?

Environmental impact

When the Carruthers children were growing up, they used to sled down a hill next to their family's home in Burlington, Mass.

"My father was worried we'd end up in the street under a car," Carruthers said. "He was an engineer, so he built us a skating rink in the backyard. He figured that was safer."

Carruthers pointed out in his speech Saturday that he and his sister are not genetically linked. Peter was adopted at nine months, Kitty at six months, which shows that environment may have as much -- or more -- to do with creating an elite athlete as genetics.

Fatherly advice

Carruthers resides in Thousand Oaks with his wife Dina, and sons Kurt, 12, and Kenton, 9.

"They both made their all-star teams in baseball, and they both had games this morning," Carruthers said of his sons. "But when I told them about Special Olympics, they wanted to come along.

"Knowing I might have some unhappy coaches to deal with, I told them, 'Let me represent the family there.' "

Special dispensation

The next time you get pulled over or are upset with a law enforcement officer, keep this in mind:

As a group, Southern California law enforcement agencies have been donating to the Special Olympics for more than 20 years, with the amount increasing each year.

This year, the donation was $900,000. "I think they'll hit $1 million next year," said Bill Shumard, Special Olympics Southern California president and chief executive.

Looking for a fix

Included on a list of signs that an NBA game is fixed, from CBS' David Letterman:

"Game begins 20 minutes before visiting team arrives."

"One of the Laker Girls looks suspiciously like Pete Rose."

"Whenever he's open, referee takes a shot."

"The Knicks win."

More rim shots

Of the NBA Finals, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel recently said: "I can't wait to find out who the NBA decided to win this thing. . . . I heard they shot multiple endings."

Of the officiating, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "One game, Kobe Bryant can't get a call. The next game, he is awarded two free throws when the national anthem singer hits a bad note."

Trivia answer

Scott Hamilton won the men's singles; Katarina Witt of East Germany won the women's.

And finally

From NBC's Jay Leno, on the news that Hillary Clinton's campaign cost $212 million: "The last time anybody spent that kind of money to come in second -- the New York Yankees."

--

larry.stewart@latimes.com

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