Gary Winckler''s Olympic Diary

Gary Winckler''s Olympic Diary

By: Gary Winckler

By: Gary Winckler

By: Gary Winckler

By: Gary Winckler

   Gary Winckler, head women''s track and field coach at Illinois, is in Australia (he had two flights canceled on the way) working with some current and former Illini. He''ll check in periodically with sights and sounds from the Summer Olympics. Today''s report:

   It''s very dry here, and there are lots of wildfires (like Montana). The air is full of smoke. The weather is in the 70-80 range in the day and quickly cools at sunset.

   There was a meet here at Runaway Bay. (Illinois sophomore) Perdita Felician ran the 100-meter 13.30 seconds. Her foot is sore, and she has been training little in the last 14 days. I have some good therapists working with her now, and hopefully she will get better soon. Canada had its Rookie Night, when all first-time Olympians have to give skits and entertain the rest of the team. Perdita was voted Best Actress.

   Runaway Bay is a sport center with great facilities. It is about a 60-minute drive south of Brisbane on what is known as the Gold Coast. The center is about a 20-minute drive from the beach, which reminds me of South Beach in Miami.

   Ron Clarke, the famous Australian Olympian and world record-holder, is one of the builder/financiers of this center. As you walk into the facility, there is a display case showing all 22 world-record medallions from his illustrious career. He never won an Olympic Gold medal, however. In 1966, Emil Zatopek gave Clarke his Olympic gold medal from the 1952 Games with an inscription on the inside of the case saying, "You deserve this." This medal is also displayed in the case at the center. Wish I could send pictures.

   I saw Marko Koers the other day. He is training here with his coach and preparing for the 1,500 meters in Sydney. He looks good and says hello to everyone in Champaign-Urbana. I also spoke with Donovan Bailey. I have known Donovan since 1991, when he used to date one of the athletes on the team at Illinois. He wasn''t running then but was always friendly and polite. He still is today even though some segments of the media portray him otherwise.

   Enjoy the day!

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