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Durlacher, Henson, Kelly receive opportunity to meet Chicago Mayor Daley before Chicago Cup

CHICAGO - It was an experience Lindsey Durlacher won't soon forget.

The World bronze medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling received an opportunity to meet and pose for a photograph with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley on Tuesday morning at City Hall in Downtown Chicago.

Durlacher was part of a group of selected athletes from the Chicago Cup wrestling dual meet who met with the Mayor on Tuesday. American freestyle wrestler Sammie Henson and U.S. women's freestyle wrestler Mary Kelly also took part in the visit along with two wrestlers from China and two from Canada.

Past World champion and Olympic medalist Bill Scherr, one of the driving forces behind the Chicago Cup, also took part in the meeting.

The Chicago Cup is scheduled for Tuesday night at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. The United States men's freestyle team is set to take on a team from Russia. Two matches in Greco-Roman and two in women's freestyle also are scheduled.

The Chicago Cup is being sponsored by World Sport Chicago and USA Wrestling. World Sport Chicago is a group that is assisting the city in its bid to try and land the 2016 Summer Olympics. Scherr heads the World Sport Chicago group.

It was a special moment for Durlacher, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Buffalo Grove. Durlacher, a die-hard Chicago Bears fan, was back in town Sunday hoping to see his beloved Bears beat the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. He watched the game with his family. Durlacher walked out of Tuesday's meeting in the Mayor's office with a smile on his face and a gift bag that included a hat, shirt and pin.

"It was really cool," Durlacher said. "It was a great opportunity to meet with Mayor Daley. We talked a little bit about the Bears game and I enjoyed getting a brief chance to talk with him. I was honored to be a part of this."

Durlacher, who lives and trains at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, said he may return to his hometown after he retires from competition following the 2008 Olympics.

Durlacher was scheduled to face Li Shujin of China in a Greco-Roman match on Tuesday night. Shujin also took part in the meeting with the Mayor as did teammate Li Yanyan of China. Women's wrestlers Carol Huynh and Megan Dolan of Canada also participated in the meeting.

Henson, a past World champion and Olympic silver medalist, also came away impressed with meeting the Mayor of Chicago.

"It was a great experience," said Henson, who is from St. Louis. "It's just been awesome to be a part of this event."

Kelly, a 2006 U.S. World Team member who is from nearby Mahomet, Ill., also said meeting the Mayor was a memorable experience.

"You don't get many opportunities like this," she said.

Photo was taken by James Peterson, City of Chicago
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