Kupets could vault Hill into head coach's spot

Bowie sailor still waiting for his medical waiver



July 04, 2004|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Event by event, gymnast Courtney Kupets is building a case -- for her coach, Kelli Hill.

When U.S. Olympic Committee officials meet in Texas from July 13 to 18 to select the women's team going to Athens, Greece, they also will select a head coach. Usually, the honor goes to the coach with the hottest athlete, and right now, that's Kupets.

The 17-year-old from Gaithersburg is the two-time U.S. all-around champion. With her first-place finish at the Olympic trials last weekend in Anaheim, Calif., Kupets becomes the third consecutive Hill-trained athlete to be ranked No. 1 all-around going into the Summer Games.

And that, say Dominique Dawes and Elise Ray -- Hill's champions in 1996 and 2000, respectively -- should make Hill a shoo-in.

"Look at her record. It should be a done deal," Dawes said.

Hill was USA Gymnastics Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1993. She was a coach for the 1992-1994 and 1996 world championships teams and was head coach last year. The University of Maryland graduate also was head coach of the 2000 Olympic squad.

Said Ray: "With those credentials, I don't know how you could pick anyone else."

Other coaches who will most likely be considered are Al Fong and Evgeny Marchenko. Fong trains Courtney McCool, the runner-up to Kupets at the Olympic trials, and Terin Humphrey, who will try to make the Olympic team during selection camp later this month. Marchenko coaches Carly Patterson, who tied Kupets at this year's national championships, and Hollie Vise, a contender to help fill out the American squad.

Hill insists she's not lobbying for the top job.

"I've done it. It's stressful," she says. "But I'll do whatever the U.S. team asks me to do."

Tale of the red tape

Odysseus had smoother sailing than Kevin Hall.

Hall, the sailor from Bowie who needs a medical waiver to participate in the Olympics, says he has gotten only half of what he needs, and time is running out.

The International Olympic Committee has placed stipulations on the "Therapeutic Use Exemption" it granted last month that would allow Hall, a survivor of testicular cancer, to continue taking testosterone injections to replace what his body no longer creates.

The IOC has ruled that an "independent referee" must review his case. That individual is separate from the International Sailing Federation, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the IOC's Medical Commission.

Hall, 34, is frustrated, saying he began pursuing the waiver with the U.S. Olympic Committee and the IOC nearly a decade ago, when he was preparing for the 1996 Summer Games.

The veteran of two America's Cup campaigns and winner of numerous international competitions says the "independent referee" only began reviewing his case June 25.

"I'm not sure to whom this has seemed easy, but we are just over one month from the Olympics, and I still do not have a final, all-bases-covered answer," Hall said in an e-mail from Athens, where he is training.

What is going smoothly is his on-water preparation.

"I recently got a new boat, which is a slightly updated design that most of the Olympic fleet will be using," Hall wrote of his Finn-class dinghy. "My speed now seems to be very competitive upwind through a range of conditions with the top guys."

Learning curve

When it comes to the softball team representing the host country at the Summer Games, it's not all Greek to them. More like half Greek or maybe three-quarters Greek.

Olympic rules guarantee the host nation a spot in all sports, even those introduced to its citizens in recent years. So all but two of the 18 women on the Greek softball team are Americans of Greek descent with dual citizenship. The other two hail from Athens.

The team known as "Hellas" (ancient Greek for Greece) will play a doubleheader on July 18 at the University of Maryland in College Park as the players and their coach, Arizona State's Linda Wells, fine-tune their teamwork.

The Greeks will play a team of local all-stars, including Rebecca Schumer (Pikesville High), Christine Sheridan (Archbishop Spalding), Kelley Tiesi (Catholic High of Baltimore) and Beth Radford (University of Maryland).

Games are at 3 and 5 p.m., with an opening ceremony 30 minutes before the first pitch. (Tickets are $5. Advanced sales only; 410-789-0175 or 410-294-6966.)

Games at a glance

When: Aug. 13-29

Where: Athens, Greece

Sports: 28

Countries: 202

Athletes: 10,500

Events: 296


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