Wednesday, August 5, 2009

News From Back Home

Last week in my home state Oklahoma, the U.S. Olympic Committee and local officials announced that Oklahoma City and suburban Edmond, Okla. (my hometown), now each have official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Sites.

According to the U.S.O.C. press release, the "Oklahoma River south of downtown Oklahoma City, in partnership with the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, [is now] an official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site for rowing and canoe/kayak. The University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla., already a Paralympic site, added the Olympic designation to become an official site for volleyball, archery and Paralympic sports."
The Daily Oklahoman did a nice job covering the event with a report and video by Mike Baldwin. I've been scanning the coverage but yet to determine whether Clay Bennett, owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was in attendance at the festivities (it seems appropriate he'd be in on site given his past work with the U.S.O.C.).

This is great news for Oklahoma and the athletes who will train there. Both of the newly designated venues are tied back to U.S. Olympic Festival '89 (for which Bennett was executive director 20 years ago), the between-the-Olympiads U.S. Olympic event that landed in OKC for 10 great days -- lots of memories volunteering with USOF-89, which kick-started my Olympic interests.

At the USOC ceremony by the Oklahoma River, Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner, who is based in Oklahoma, said, “We [OKC] hosted the United States Olympic Festival in 1989 and we have never hesitated to support United States Olympic and Paralympic athletes and the values they stand for – excellence, discipline, the spirit of fair play. I am so proud of what we have achieved through MAPs to transform our community and put us in a position to receive Olympic Training Site designations. The future is bright and today’s announcement is only the beginning of great things to come.”

Bravo, OKC!

Photo provided by the University of Central Oklahoma press office. Photo includes, from left, U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Stephanie Streeter, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and UCO Executive Vice President and Vice President for Administration Steve Kreidler.

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