Thursday, August 24, 2000

Local rower still going to Sydney

Staff and wire reports

        Cincinnati native Kelly Salchow gets to keep her spot on the Olympic rowing team.

        Salchow, a 26-year-old Walnut Hills High and University of Cincinnati graduate, and her boatmates had been selected by U.S. Rowing as the American entry in women's quadruple sculls at next month's Sydney Olympics. But when a personality conflict arose between Salchow's team and sculling coach Igor Grinko, a second boat filed a legal challenge to replace Salchow's quad.

        That forced the case to an arbitrator. On Wednesday, the arbitrator upheld the selection of Salchow's boat.

        U.S. Rowing spokesman Brett Johnson said the organization was “very happy” with the decision.

        — Scott MacGregor

        DRAG QUEENS: The closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics is going to be a drag.

        Drag queens will be part of the Games' finale despite swelling controversy the move has sparked, ceremonies director Ric Birch said Wednesday. He called critics of the plan “right-wing reactionaries.”

        Including the men who wear outlandish dresses, wigs and makeup in the closing ceremony is justif ied and a “part of one tiny section” of the event, a tribute to universally acclaimed Australian films that include the 1994 hit The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

        The movie featured two drag queens and a transsexual driving a pink bus through Australia's Outback. Some of the participants in the closing ceremony will be dressed in original costumes from the film, including a bright, frill-necked lizard outfit.

        “Drag queens do not truly represent our great Aussie culture at all,” the Rev. Fred Nile said.

        Birch said the inclusion of drag queens also reflected one of Sydney's most colorful events, the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

        GYMNASTICS: Officials at USA Gymnastics selected Tasha Schwikert as the final alternate to the U.S. women's Olympic team. The 15-year-old will join Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy's Alyssa Beckerman on the alternate's list.

        TENNIS: Serena Williams will play doubles with her sister, Venus, at the Olympics after an arbitrator Wednesday turned down a bid by Lisa Raymond to replace the defending U.S. Open singles champion.


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