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Olympics briefs

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 18, 2000

Hovering memories of the Games

SYDNEY, Australia -- Kevin Inkster wants you to forget your fold-up scooter, scrap your skateboard and take to the air.

The designer of personal hovercraft featured at the Opening Ceremonies said Sunday he hopes to have them in stores in time for Christmas.

"Going around a corner is a bit like a car out of control on ice," said Inkster, who was inspired by the hovering skateboards in the film Back to the Future II.

Powered by a small engine, the boards hover 4 inches above the ground and are capable of 15 mph. Riders steer by using the throttle and shifting weight.

Inkster was one of the riders who steered 16 silver boards around Olympic Stadium on Friday.

He told Australia's Channel Seven news that the boards are expected to sell for about $7,500.

CRUISE SHIP DEATHS: A second passenger on a cruise ship being used as a floating hotel for Olympic broadcasters reportedly has died from complications arising from a flulike illness he contracted while on board the holiday liner.

Geoffrey Dorber, 62, died Wednesday, three days after returning from a 12-day South Pacific cruise on the Fair Princess, the Daily Telegraph reported Sunday.

Dorber's death and reports of similar outbreaks on two other cruises have raised concerns about the ship, now home to 400 broadcasters working for the Sydney Olympic Broadcasters Organization.

USOC APPEAL: The U.S. Olympic Committee is making two more attempts to gain eligibility for kayaker Angel Perez, who has been told he can't compete as an American because he hasn't been a citizen long enough.

The prospects aren't good, though. Both requests are before organizations that previously rejected the former Cuban's bid.

"We've probably got a 40-60 chance," USOC chief executive Norm Blake said.

The crux of the last-ditch bid is a letter from Edward W. Gnehm, U.S. ambassador to Australia, saying the U.S. government has viewed Perez as a "national" longer than the three years the Olympics require for switching nationalities. He became a citizen last September.

DOMESTIC CLASH: Norway's Mia Hundvin triumphed over her Danish spouse, Camilla Andersen, when the Scandinavian handball stars clashed in a preliminary match at Olympic Park.

Norway defeated the world's No. 1 team, Denmark, 19-17 after leading 10-7 at halftime.

Danish law permits same-sex marriages, and the two married over the summer.

NO SMOKING: Chelsea Clinton is a private citizen, Donna Shalala is a U.S. Cabinet member. Guess which one drew the crowd?

The president's daughter stepped out of her car and was quickly surrounded by Australian children and their parents at an appearance to promote a smoking prevention initiative aimed at Australian girls.

"I had a good time in Sydney," Chelsea said as she autographed soccer balls and even a boy's green soccer jersey.

Later, at the end of a news conference, Chelsea did a first on her Olympics trip: She answered a reporter's question.

"I've never smoked a cigarette in my life," she said when asked if she had a smoking history.

NED KELLY, MEET . . .: Ned Kelly proposed to Ned Kelly at the Opening Ceremonies.

James Toepfer and his girlfriend, Sally Gregg, were dressed for the event in giant Ned Kelly outfits, commemorating Australia's most notorious bandit.

With an estimated audience of more than 3-billion around the world tuning in to watch Friday, Toepfer popped the question.

"It had to be very quick. There was no buildup to it all," Gregg told the Sunday Telegraph.

They kissed, bumped helmets and carried on with the performance. "It was romantic but not one on one; it was one on 3-billion," Toepfer said.

WRONG FLAG: Hong Kong, participating in the Olympics for the first time under Chinese sovereignty, has been embarrassed by the disclosure that the team carried a wrongly made flag during the Opening Ceremonies.

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