Mike Candrea, coach of the U.S. Olympic softball team, said today that he's not sure whether his sport will return for the 2016 Games.
Softball will be contested at the Olympics next year in Beijing. The International Olympic Committee voted in 2005 to drop softball and baseball from the 2012 London Games, although there's talk of bringing back softball in 2016.
"Our hands are a little bit tied. We can only do so much," Candrea told reporters on a conference call announcing the naming of the 18-person national team. "It's going to take a break here and there to get the votes to sway a different direction. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will happen."
The U.S. has won three gold medals in as many tries since softball debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Games. It went 9-0 at the 2004 Athens Games, outscoring opponents 51-1 and setting 16 Olympic records.
The national team features 12 members of the 2004 squad, including three-time Olympians Laura Berg and Lisa Fernandez. A 40-city U.S. tour will begin in February, and the 15-person Olympic team will be selected by July 1, 2008.
A look at the national team:
Monica Abbott, Salinas, Calif.
Laura Berg, Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
Crystl Bustos, Canyon Country, Calif.
Andrea Duran, Selma, Calif.
Lisa Fernandez, Long Beach, Calif.
Jennie Finch, La Mirada, Calif.
Tairia Flowers, Tucson, Ariz.
Vicky Galindo, Union City, Calif.
Alicia Hollowell, Suisun, Calif.
Lovieanne Jung, Fountain Valley, Calif.
Kelly Kretschman, Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.
Lauren Lappin, Anaheim, Calif.
Caitlin Lowe, Tustin, Calif.
Jessica Mendoza, Camarillo, Calif.
Stacey Nuveman, La Verne, Calif.
Cat Osterman, Houston
Jenny Topping, Whittier, Calif.
Natasha Watley, Irvine, Calif.
Head coach: Mike Candrea, Casa Grande, Ariz.
Assistant coaches: Chuck D'Arcy, Sacramento, Calif.; Karen Johns, Charlottesville, Va.; John Rittman, San Jose, Calif.
Durlacher takes 5th at wrestling worlds
Colorado Springs resident Lindsey Durlacher placed fifth in the 121-pound Greco-Roman weight class at the World Wrestling Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Durlacher dropped a 2-0, 3-0 decision to Serbia's Kristijan Fris in the bronze-medal match after beating Romania's Virgil Munteanu and Denmark's Anders Nyblom in the repechage rounds. The top-eight finish qualified the U.S. for Beijing at 121 pounds.
"It's hard to come so close to winning a medal and walk away empty-handed," Durlacher said. "At the same time, a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders by qualifying this weight for the Olympic Games. I can just train straight through and concentrate on making our Olympic team and not have to go through any of those qualifying tournaments."
Those qualifying tournaments include the Pan American Championships, the next chance for U.S. wrestlers to qualify their weight class for Beijing. The tournament will be held Feb. 29 to March 2, 2008, in Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs wrestlers T.C. Dantzler (163 pounds), Justin Ruiz (211.5) and Brad Vering (185) will compete Tuesday at the world championships. Dantzler has the toughest draw, as he'll face Ukraine's Volodimir Shatskykh, the defending world champion, in the first round.
Kelly top U.S. finisher at modern pentathlon event
Four Colorado Springs modern pentathletes competed last weekend at the World Cup Final in Beijing.
Michelle "Mickey" Kelly, a member of the World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, was the top U.S. finisher, taking 23rd place in the women's division of the competition that doubled as an Olympic test event. She was followed by Dennis Bowsher (29th in men's), Emily Shertzer (29th, women's) and Sheila Taormina (32nd, women's).
Kelly and Monument's Eli Bremer qualified for Beijing by winning medals this summer at the Pan American Games. The top six finishers (three per gender) at the 2008 world championships will qualify for Beijing, and the remaining 14 Olympic spots (seven per gender) will be determined by World Cup ranking as of June 1, 2008.
Springs cyclist places 13th in stage race
Colorado Springs rider Danny Pate finished in 13th place Sunday in the Tour of Missouri, a 563-mile stage race that's part of the USA Cycling Pro Tour.
Pate, sponsored by Slipstream/Chipotle, completed the six-day event in 21 hours, 12 minutes, 23 seconds, nearly 12 minutes behind winner George Hincapie, a Discovery Channel rider. He won the fifth stage, a 127-mile road race that ended in St. Charles, Mo.
Fort Carson boxer headed to Pan Am tourney
Fort Carson boxer Caroline Barry will begin practice Tuesday at the Olympic Training Center in preparation for the Pan American Championships, scheduled for Oct. 5-9 in Guayaquil, Equador.
Barry, a WCAP member, is part of a 12-person team that's coached by Fort Carson's Basheer Abdullah, the 2004 Olympic coach. At the 2006 Pan American Championships, she was the runner-up in the 132-pound lightweight division, sparked by a first-round stoppage of Equador's Ani Chuni in the semifinals.
In her last competition, Barry won a gold medal at the U.S. Championships in Colorado Springs. She's a three-time national champion, three-time Women's National Golden Gloves champion and three-time National Police Athletic League champion.
Olympic tickets going fast
More than 1.5 million Olympic tickets have been distributed to 300,000-plus people, according to the Beijing Organizing Committee.
All 26,000 tickets made available for the opening ceremony during the first phase of the ticket distribution process were sold. The sports with the most demand were basketball, diving, table tennis, soccer and gymnastics.
The second phase of ticket sales begins next month. To order Olympic tickets, call Adam Wixted at 1-877-457-4647 or visit http://www.cosport.com.