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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
July 28, 2006

Ohioans bring home medals from the Gay Games

Chicago--Despite technical problems and searing heat, the seventh quadrennial Gay Games held July 15 to 22 are being hailed a success both by organizers and by Ohioans, a number of whom brought home medals.

Coming in on more secure financial footing than its recent predecessors, the event brought over 11,000 competitors. Just under a quarter of these came from other countries.

The influx of international athletes most likely suffered from two factors, opposition to United States military action in the Middle East and the formation of a second international LGBT sporting and cultural festival, the Outgames.

The Outgames, which are being held in Montr�al and feature an international LGBT human rights conference beforehand, kicked off on July 26.

The Gay Games opening and closing ceremonies were flawless, with the end of the games seeing Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley ceremonially handed the Gay Games banner to Elfi Scho-Antwerpes, deputy mayor of Cologne, Germany. Cologne is hosting the 2010 Gay Games.

Some of the logistical difficulties faced by the Games included a shortage of water, which at times presented a problem in the unusually high temperatures athletes faced, a diffusion of event locations making it difficult to get from one venue to another in short periods of time, and faulty planning of some events, which caused the triathlon, for instance, to be somewhat chaotic at the beginning. The triathlon medals ceremony was delayed for hours over difficulty with the results.

However, despite the problems, organizers are, according the Chicago Tribune, �99 percent� certain that the festival will come out in the black for the first time in 12 years. The last time the Gay Games were held in the United States, the 1994 games in New York, some events were canceled, which was not a problem this time.

Three days after the last of the sporting events, and two days after the closing ceremonies, full results were still not available from the organizing committee, and most of the results that could be procured failed to specify the home towns of the winners.

One example of the poorness of result reporting is the case of Brian Hoar, a runner from Cleveland. He was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times discussing the difference between the Chicago games and the 1990 ones in Vancouver, British Columbia, yet it took extensive searching of links on the Gay Games website to find out Hoar�s results, none of which included his home town.

However, Ohio athletes brought home enough medals to satisfy any relatively conservative, medium-sized state.

Bowling saw Cleveland�s Kevin Rotenberry taking home a silver medal in Mixed Singles, Division D (Averages 155-169), and Columbus� Jeffrey Baker and his partner Mike Riley of Round Rock, Texas, brought home the silver in Mixed Doubles Division C (Averages 340-369). In Mixed Team Division D (Averages 620-679), Northcoast Bowlers Lindo Mancini, Ed Progar, Kevin Rotenberry and Andrew Wright brought home the gold medal.

�It was kind of overwhelming,� said Progar, one of the organizers of the Gay Invitational Fellowship Tournament, an International Gay and Lesbian Bowling Organization tournament in Cleveland. �We didn�t get to see a lot.�

Progar bowled 19 games in five days, leaving him little time to view other events or really enjoy the city.

�If I go again, I probably would not go as a participant, I would go as a spectator so I can see more,� he said.

John Katsaros, the owner of Twist nightclub in Cleveland, sponsored a volleyball team and a skater at the games, and was thrilled to learn that Franklyn Singley was bringing home the gold in his division in figure skating.

Singley has been skating since he was 7, and his win vindicates his years of effort.

Two silvers were brought home by Julio Aponte, the only member of the Ohio Splash to compete in the Gay Games.

He picked up one in open-water swim, slicing his way through the waters of Lake Michigan, and the other in Men�s 200-Meter Breaststroke, Ages 60-64.

�The opening ceremony was magnificent,� Aponte said, �state by state was great. We were about 30 from Ohio, a contingent from Ohio State, the volleyball team from Cleveland sponsored by Twist and groups from Cincinnati and Dayton.�

Aponte, born in Colombia and living in Ohio since 1970, was impressed with the Windy City.

�Chicago is great, with two gay areas and hundreds of businesses of all kinds in Andersonville and Boystown,� he said, �each one bigger and more open than the Castro, DuPont Circle or Chelsea.�

The organizers of the Chicago Gay Games had half the normal amount of time in which to plan their events. Originally, Montr�al was selected to be the host city for 2006, but disagreements between the planning committee and the Federation of Gay Games led to a split, and Chicago emerged as the victor in the search for a new city.

The Outgames were Montr�al 2006�s response to the situation, and run until August 5.


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