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Olympians To Go Through San Diego Processing Center Before Heading to Sydney



San Diego, Calif. is the site of the U.S. Olympic team processing for the Sydney Olympics. All of the U.S. delegation will come through this city on the way to Australia. This is where they get their official equipment, go through USOC meetings and briefings and have their final sendoff before leaving the United States to represent our nation. The USOC processing is taking place on a Navy base right next to the airport. The ocean comes right up to the dormitory areas, a beautiful sight for the U.S. team's final day on American soil. Athletes, coaches and team leaders casually move around the campus area, but you know their mind is on the upcoming Games. At processing, the reality of the Olympics sinks in - the team is on its way. Although the wrestling teams won't go through this for a few more days, there are wrestling people here today. Matt Ghaffari, a two-time Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler and a major supporter of the Olympic movement, has volunteered to assist in the processing procedures. Today is departure day for the judo team, which features a number of wrestlers and former wrestlers. Sandy Bacher, a 1999 Women's World Champion in wrestling, is going to her third Olympics in judo. She'll be competing at 70 kg (her wrestling weight is 68 kg). Sandy is very excited that Kristie Marano, who went to the Women's World Championships this past weekend at her weight class, came home with the gold. Sandy says that she believed that Kristie could win it. At least three members of the men's judo team have a wrestling background. Jason Morris was an NCAA All-American in wrestling at Syracuse and Jim Pedro was an EIWA wrestling champion for Brown. Alex Ottiano also wrestled in college for Brown. Morris was a silver medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and Pedro was a bronze medalist in the 1996 Atlanta Games (in judo of course). I caught up with them after a training run with Hillary Wolf, the movie actress and judo Olympian, who is a good friend of many of the U.S. Greco-Roman resident athletes in Colorado Springs.
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