Friday, August 31, 2007

Durante ready for gymnastics worlds

Olympic Training Center resident David Durante will try to carry momentum from his most recent national title at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, which begin Saturday in Stuttgart, Germany.

Durante, 27, of Garwood, N.J., won the all-around title in his last competition, the Visa Championships earlier this month. He's captain of a six-person men's squad that includes Denver's Guillermo Alvarez and Morrison's Alexander Artemev.

An expert on the parallel bars, Durante moved to the OTC in 2004, two years after he graduated from Stanford with a bachelor's degree in human biology. Since then, he has won three all-around national championships, including back-to-back crowns at the Winter Cup Challenge.

The world championships - a two-hour, tape-delay broadcast will air at 2 p.m. Oct. 7 on NBC - is the only qualifier for the 2008 Beijing Games in artistic gymnastics, with the top 12 men's and women's teams advancing. The Rhythmic World Championships (Sept. 19-23 in Patras, Greece) and Trampoline & Tumbling World Championships (Nov. 2-4 in Quebec City, Canada) also are Olympic qualifiers.

OTC residents heading to judo worlds

Two OTC residents will compete Sept. 13-16 at the World Judo Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Kirk Hoffmann (220-plus pounds) and Ryan Reser (160) are part of a 16-person team participating in the largest world championships in recent history. The event is expected to draw 776 judo players from 129 countries.

The world championships is a qualifier for Beijing. The top six athletes in 14 weight classes earn Olympic quota spots.

In other judo action, eight Colorado Springs residents are among the 200-plus athletes competing Saturday at the Fall Classic National Championships in Coral Springs, Fla. The tournament is a domestic qualifier for the U.S. Olympic team trials, which will be held June 13-14, 2008, in Las Vegas.

Josh O'Neil will fight in the men's 132-pound division, fresh off a fifth-place finish at the International German Championships. Taylor Takata, the No. 2 seed in the men's 145-pound division, was the gold medalist at the 2006 Senior National Championships and the runner-up at this year's nationals. Micah Bellamy is a contender in the men's 220-pound division.

The top seed in the women's 97-pound division is Alexa Liddie, a silver medalist at the 2007 Pan American Championships. Anna Palmer is the top seed in the women's 114-pound division, riding high after a third-place finish at nationals. Pauline Macias is not seeded in the women's 125-pound division after skipping nationals. D'Anya Bierra, a 1991 world team member, is coming off a third-place finish at the Golden State Open in the women's 138-pound division, which includes Christal Ransom.

Team USA into semifinals

The U.S. men's basketball senior national team, which features Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, will face Puerto Rico in Saturday's semifinals of the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas. Argentina will play Brazil in the other semifinal. The semifinal winners receive Olympic berths.

A look at the TV schedule:

Saturday, Argentina vs. Brazil, 2 p.m.,; U.S. vs. Puerto Rico, 5 p.m., ESPN Classic

Sunday, bronze medal game, 2 p.m., FSN; gold medal game, 5 p.m., FSN

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