Athlete nearly foiled by airlines

  • Article by: NEWS SERVICES
  • Updated: July 27, 2012 - 3:57 PM
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Michael Phelps joined his Team USA teammates in a pre-Olympics press conference Thursday, pulling out his iPhone at one point to take a picture of the hundreds of reporters who had gathered to ask questions.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

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The competitors she will face may not provide as much of a roadblock to success for Olympic shooter Kim Rhode as the airlines.

Rhode, who actually has become one of the bigger names in these Olympics despite the obscurity of her sport, recently arrived in London after having to reshuffle her schedule. The culprit? Two consecutive days of canceled flights at Los Angeles International Airport.

"I got to the gate last Friday," Rhode said Thursday in London, "and was handing them my suitcase when they said my flight had been canceled and they were booking me on one the next day. So I gathered up my stuff, went home, came back the next day and the flight was canceled again."

Her plan was to join her U.S. shooting teammates for a quick training camp in Denmark, then come with them to London. Being in Denmark would not only sharpen her eye, but get her body on European time.

"But once we got the second cancellation," Rhode said, "we decided to skip the Denmark camp, do a little more shooting at home and then come directly to London."

Sunday, she will attempt to become the first U.S. athlete in an individual sport to win a medal in a fifth consecutive Olympic Games. She won gold in Atlanta, bronze in Sydney, gold in Athens and silver in Beijing. The first shot at history will be Sunday, in her best event, skeet.

Thursday, at a press gathering, she was asked how she felt.

"Jet-lagged," she said.

Hooray for the old guy

There are always a handful of athletes at the Olympics trying to win one for the aged, and Chris Horner is "that guy" for the U.S. men's road cycling team.

Horner, who will turn 41 in October, gives off a grand-fatherly vibe surrounded by 20-something teammates Tejay van Garderen, Taylor Phinney, Tyler Farrar and Timmy Duggan.

Horner turned professional in 1995, but failed to make the U.S. team for the next four Summer Olympics. He figured that London was his final shot, and was nearly overcome with emotion when USA Cycling announced he had made the five-man team for Saturday's road race.

"Your whole life, you're always trying to get on the Olympic team," Horner said.

Etc.

• Londoners have been careful not to leak too many secrets about Friday's Opening Ceremony, but some have slipped out anyway. With thousands taking part in dress rehearsals being held at night, it's been difficult to keep all the juicy details under wraps. And while it's been impossible to see what's going on inside Olympic Stadium, there have been clues floating in the air all week. "I've heard Paul McCartney do 'Hey Jude' twice," said a bartender on Euston Street. "At least it sounded like him."

• U.S. women's wrestling coach Terry Steiner is hopeful that the growth of the sport domestically will lead to the country's first gold medal. Steiner said that in 2002, two years before women's wrestling made its debut at the Athens Games, just five American colleges offered women's wrestling. That number currently stands at 21, and Steiner said girls' wrestling is also the fastest-growing sport at the high school level in the U.S.

"Our goals are very simple. We've got four athletes and we'd like to leave here with four medals," Steiner said.

• U.S. tennis player John Isner is matched against Olivier Rochus of Belgium in a draw that was announced Thursday at Wimbledon. Isner is 6-foot-9, and his opponent is 5-6. Last year, Isner defeated Rochus to win the Hall of Fame Championships title at Newport, R.I. The Association of Tennis Professionals described it as the "biggest ever height differential" in a tour final. The ATP biography for Rochus, whose career-high ranking was No. 24 in 2005, says his ambition as a child was "to be tall."

At 6-10, Ivo Karlovic of Croatia is the tallest man on the tour.

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