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Olympians celebrate Vancouver triumph with White House visit

By: BRIAN GOMEZ
April 20, 2010
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photo - Long-track speedskater Shani Davis (right) flashed his medals, a gold and a silver, from the Vancouver Games to about 150 students Wednesday at a Washington elementary school, joined by school principal Shannon Foster (left). The visit was to promote first lady Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity. Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Long-track speedskater Shani Davis (right) flashed his medals, a gold and a silver, from the Vancouver Games to about 150 students Wednesday at a Washington elementary school, joined by school principal Shannon Foster (left). The visit was to promote first lady Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity. Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 

Barack Obama got a hockey puck signed by Ryan Miller, and a throng of the nation’s top amateur athletes shook hands Wednesday with the president, their reward for helping the U.S. to a record-setting performance at the Vancouver Games.

Nearly 225 Olympians and Paralympians visited the White House, two months after the Americans won the Olympic total-medal count with 37, one more than Germany claimed in 2002, and finished third behind Canada and Germany in the gold-medal race with nine.

Athletes also met Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama, and they stopped on Capitol Hill and partook in a Supreme Court reception. Colorado Springs bobsledder Steven Holcomb participated Tuesday in a meet-and-greet at a Washington gas station, while other athletes spent time at the Pentagon, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Camden Yards and Georgetown.

Ice hockey players Caitlin Cahow, Julie Chu and Angela Ruggiero, key parts of the silver medal-winning team in Vancouver, along with cross-country skier Liz Stephen, will work Thursday on six homes for Habitat for Humanity, aiding families in need. It’s an extension of the Team for Tomorrow fund, a U.S. Olympic Committee humanitarian relief effort.

Also Wednesday, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., announced the formation of the congressional Olympic and Paralympic caucus in the Senate, joined by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. John Boozman, R-Ark., James Langevin, D-R.I., Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., and David Reichert, R-Wash., are House chairs of the caucus, formed Feb. 12 to address Olympic legislative issues.

Triathletes in action

Olympic Training Center triathlete Matt Chrabot finished second Sunday at a World Cup in Monterrey, Mexico. Also of the OTC, Manuel Huerta was fifth and Brian Fleischmann was 18th. OTC resident Andy Potts won the Ironman 70.3 New Orleans on Sunday.

Fleischmann returns Sunday at the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as OTC residents Kevin Collington, Sarah Haskins Kortuem, Sara McLarty and Jasmine Oeinck. Lewis-Palmer graduate Adam Coy marked a 54th-place finish to help Colorado win the collegiate national championship Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.

Weightlifters on podium

Colorado-Colorado Springs weightlifter Kelly Lynch took home a gold medal last week at the national collegiate championships in Marquette, Mich. Jessie Humeston and Jacque Payne, both of Pikes Peak Community College, claimed bronzes, and Stephanie Spencer of UCCS was fourth.

Judo players triumph

OTC judo players Alexa Liddie, Anna Palmer, Michael Prieditis, Katie Sell and George Truong won golds Saturday at the Northglenn Championships in Broomfield. Also of the OTC, Samantha Bleier, Christal Ransom and Ryan Reser won silvers; and Myles Porter grabbed a bronze.

Wrestlers seeking repeat

Eight OTC wrestlers look to repeat as champions at the U.S. Open, which begins Friday in Cleveland. The group includes Dremiel Byers, Kelsey Campbell, Clarissa Chun, T.C. Dantzler, Jake Herbert, Jermaine Hodge, Elena Pirozhkova and Faruk Sahin.

For more Olympic coverage, visit www.gazette.com/olympics

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