Big crowds, new stars at festivities

August 02, 1993|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Staff Writer

SAN ANTONIO -- The U.S. Olympic Festival '93 held its closing ceremonies last night, a fitting end for a city that was holding a coming-out party and for new American athletes looking to burst upon the national scene.

It was a festival that had it all: some great newcomers, a few accomplished stars and athletes who were about to retire, but couldn't.

One of the biggest winners, though, was San Antonio itself. Daily attendance averaged 40,000, and revenue was close to $2.5 million, Festival president Robert Marbut Jr. said yesterday.

"So we are now only a little ways from our goal of $2.6 million, and we still have another day," Marbut said. "We reached the break-even point around Thursday. I don't think we're an emerging major-league city anymore. We have arrived."

Gary Alexander, director of Olympic Festivals, said from his headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.: "This is my 12th year with the festival and second as director, and without question it has to be ranked among the top two or three."

The festival drew a number of big names, such as track and field's Gail Devers, diving's Mark Lenzi, gymnastics' Shannon Miller and weightlifting's Mark Henry.

The newest name to emerge, though, belonged to a 13-year-old who is 4 feet 7 and 77 pounds.

Michelle Kwan, from Lake Arrowhead, Calif., won the individual figure skating title, completing six triple jumps in a long program.

The performance mesmerized a record crowd at the Alamodome, and Kwan said: "I was just riding with the flow. I was just going with it. It was like show time, you know."

There was also a glimpse at the new speedster in track and field, Jonathan Burrell, 19, from Cleveland, who won the 100 meters in 10.43, despite pulling a hamstring with just a few feet left in the race.

Basketball had its share of blue-chippers in Rasheed Wallace zTC and Jerry Stackhouse, two of the most highly touted high schoolers in the country, headed to North Carolina.

But freshman guards Derek Anderson of Ohio State and Burt Harris of Southern Cal put up the most impressive numbers, averaging 21.8 and 18.8 points, respectively.

It went as predicted for Devers. She won gold medals in the 100 hurdles, the 100 and as a member of a 4 x 100 relay team.

Lenzi won two gold medals, but had to have a great dive on his final attempt to win the 3-meter event.

Miller won the all-around title, and Henry used his 5,000-calorie-a-day diet to help him lift 826 1/2 pounds to win the gold.

Henry, however, said he was happy and disappointed. Happy because he got good results despite a knee injury, and disappointed because he wanted to lift more in front of friends and family who traveled from nearby Silsbee.

But maybe no one was more disappointed than hurdler Greg Foster, the 1984 Olympic silver medalist and three-time world champion, who clipped three hurdles and finally stopped running a little more than halfway through his 110 race.

That was supposed to be Foster's last race in America. It won't be.

"I'm not quitting on a note like this," Foster said. "I can't."

Neither could diver Scott Donie.

Donie, who won a silver medal in the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Spain, walked off the 10-meter platform Friday. He climbed down the ladder and told officials he wasn't going to dive anymore.

"When I was in the middle of that handstand, I just asked myself why I was continuing to do this. All the fun had drained out of this for me," he said.

A day later, Donie was competing in the 3-meter dive.

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