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  October 2, 2000

Huskies Had Strong Presence at Sydney Olympics

Six award-winning athletes with ties to the University, along with UConn's head women's basketball coach, are headed home this week after competing in the Sydney2000 Olympic Games in Australia.

"Our presence at the Games was truly historic," said Lew Perkins, director of athletics, referring to the number of athletes associated with UConn who competed in the Games.

"It is gratifying to me that UConn's Olympians are a mix of races, ages and gender," Perkins said. "They represent three nations in addition to the United States. The University of Connecticut the world is seeing represented at these Olympic Games knows no boundaries."

He added that the extent of the University's participation in Sydney is a tribute to the high level of achievement and dedication of UConn's student-athletes and coaches.

In the Sydney spotlight was UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma, who served as assistant coach to the U.S. team that included former UConn basketball star Kara Wolters. A 1997 UConn graduate, Wolters now plays in the Women's National Basketball Association with the Indiana Fever.

"This is an incredible experience," said Auriemma in a telephone call to the University's Athletics Division during opening ceremonies.

"We could hear the crowd in the background and it was pretty exciting for us, too," said Annmarie Person, a staff person in athletics who was on hand at the time of Auriemma's call.

Svetlana Abrosimova, a UConn senior and a women's basketball team favorite, competed in Sydney with her country on the Russian National Team. The team lost to Brazil 68-67 in the closing days of the Games. Abrosimova was no newcomer to the Olympics scene, however, having played on the World Championship silver medal-winning 1998 Russian National Team and the 1999 squad that competed in the European Championships.

Also competing in Sydney were University athletic heroes: Ray Allen, Dudley Dorival, Joanne Durant, and Sara Whalen.

Allen, an NBA all-star with the Milwaukee Bucks, played for the star-studded U.S. Men's Basketball Olympics Team. Allen was the first player in UConn men's basketball history to reach the score of 1,000 points in his sophomore season.

Dorival of Haiti, a 1997 University graduate, finished seventh in the Olympic 110-meter hurdles; Durant, an eight-time New England champion who graduated from UConn in 1998, competed in sprints, representing Barbados; and Whalen, a 1997 UConn graduate and NCAA National Player of the Year, competed on the 1999 U.S. team that captured the Women's World Cup. At week's end, the U.S. Soccer Team was in contention for an Olympic medal.

Claudia Chamberlain