Saturday, November 17

In Sydney, 55 Bruins are going faster higher stronger


Playing for the other side, these bruins are representing their home countries in the games

  NICOLE MILLER/Daily Bruin Sean Kern, a
2-meter man for Team USA, looks to pass against the Romanian
National Team in a pre-Sydney exhibition game at Pepperdine.

By Pauline Vu

Daily Bruin Senior Staff Though 55 Bruins are competing in the
Olympics right now, not all of them are seeking glory for the U.S.
The Daily Bruin profiles three of 10 athletes who are going about
it in Sydney the un-American way.

Marilyn Chua (junior)”“ Malaysia, Swimming

She nearly didn’t make it. At Malaysia’s Olympic
swim trials in May, Marilyn Chua placed second in the 50-meter
freestyle to earn a berth for the country. But her time still did
not meet the Olympic qualifying time of 27.27 seconds. Chua swam in
several other races to try to make the time, but still
couldn’t do it. Then, at the Janet Evans Invitational at USC
in July, her last meet before the Olympics, Chua gave it one last
go. And made it. Her time, 27.16, was a Malaysian record.

  UCLA Sports Info Mebrahtom Keflezighi
races as a Bruin against USC and BYU in 1997. “It’s not
a big deal. I felt relieved,” Chua said afterward.
“I’ve been trying to make it since forever.”

The Bruin, who was born in Malaysia and has a student visa to
the U.S., came specifically for the opportunity to both swim and
learn. “Back home in Malaysia, the (government and school)
system does not provide for student-athletes. It’s either you
swim or study,” Chua said in a phone interview from Sydney.
“It’s virtually impossible to excel in both, but here
in the U.S., you are able to do both at the same time.” She
made the decision to leave her family and go to a new country when
she was 16. “I guess it was kinda hard for my family to let
me go and be thousands of miles away from their “˜little baby
girl,’ but they knew it was what I wanted to do and they knew
it was the best thing for me, so they were really supportive after
I made my decision,” Chua said. After she qualified for the
Olympics, Chua stayed in the U.S. and trained with Bruin head coach
Cyndi Gallagher. In early September she went to Kuala Lumpur to
train with the six other Olympic-bound Malaysian swimmers.
“It’s a lot different,” Chua said. “It
isn’t as fun training with the (Malaysian) team compared to
UCLA. The team’s a lot smaller and people aren’t as
wild and crazy, so it’s less interesting and a lot quieter.
“Generally, Malaysians are pretty introverted and
conservative, and do not let their thoughts or emotions show
much.” Chua has only lived in the U.S. for four years and
goes home twice a year. Asked if she considered herself more
Malaysian or American, she answered, “I haven’t been in
the U.S. as long “¦ so I wouldn’t really consider myself
more American than Malaysian. “But I’d like to think
that originally and culturally I’m Malaysian, but I’ve
adapted and been very heavily influenced by American thinking and
ways, so in that sense, you could say I’m American,”
she added. This season Chua will be back to swim for UCLA. But for
now, she’s participating in what she calls “the
greatest accomplishment an athlete can achieve.” “It
means the world to me to be able to do it,” Chua said.
“Being here in Sydney is like a dream come true and I
can’t really describe my emotions. You gotta be here to
understand.”

  JESSE PORTER/Daily Bruin Senior Staff Former Bruin
Holly McPeak and partner Misty May (not pictured)
from Long Beach State are the United States’ No. 2 team for
beach volleyball in this year’s Olympic competition.

Nada Kawar (’98) ““ Jordan, Shot Put

Nada Kawar is the greatest track and field Olympian in Jordan.
She’s also the only track and field Olympian in Jordan. The
Middle Eastern country, nestled between Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and
Israel, sent only 10 athletes to the games. “They’re
not that great at sports in Jordan,” Kawar said in a phone
interview hours before leaving for Sydney. Born in Irbid, Jordan,
Kawar came to the U.S. in 1989 and has dual citizenship. Kawar, who
is competing in her second straight Olympics for Jordan, is the
country’s most recognizable track and field face and has been
featured in several newspapers. “I’ve brought a lot of
recognition to the sport,” she said. “They all know
me.” But is it at all strange being a woman and representing
a Middle Eastern and Islamic country as an athlete in such a
powerful sport? “(Jordan) is still considered, I guess, third
world. Women are still not given all the rights “¦
they’re still expected to raise kids,” Kawar said.
“It’s like America in the 1950s or 1960s.” Still,
she added, “I’ve never had the impression that people
are surprised (that I’m an athlete).” At the recent
Arab Track and Field Championships held in Jordan, Kawar was the
hometown favorite. With the whole stadium cheering for her, she
didn’t disappoint the crowd, winning the shot put title.
“Jordan doesn’t have very many great athletes, so
they’re proud of the athletes that do well,” Kawar
said. It was in the U.S., though, that Kawar had the throw that
qualified her for Sydney. At the UCLA-USC dual meet this year,
competing as an individual, she threw a personal record 17 meters,
83 centimeters, better than the Olympic “B” qualifying
standard of 17.35 m. Though she doesn’t live in Jordan, Kawar
says that it means a lot to have the right to represent her
country. “Even though I call the U.S. my home, Jordan’s
my home country. It’s my birthright.”

Mark Williams (senior) ““ Australia, Indoor Volleyball

When he first joined the Australian National Team a year ago,
Mark Williams was nicknamed “sepo” because, Williams
explained, Australians say Americans are like septic tanks ““
full of, uh, waste. Now Williams, who was born in Sydney but became
an American transport at the age of 10, is more accepted on the
team. But still, “Once in a while I still get a sepo
call,” he said in an interview from Sydney. “The longer
I’m here I feel more Australian, but I am definitely an
American in the eyes of the Australians because of my thick
accent,” he added. Williams is a starter for the Australian
Team, though not in the capacity he’s used to. Just months
after being UCLA’s outside hitter, setting the single-season
record for most aces and delivering the winning kill for
UCLA’s 18th national championship, he is now
Australia’s libero, a player who is only allowed to pass and
dig. “It’s hard to play libero when I’m used to
doing many other things, but on the team I am the rookie and do
whatever I can to play,” Williams said. “Ultimately I
would rather be playing outside, but it wasn’t my
decision.” That’s not the only thing that’s tough
about playing for the Aussies. “It’s different from
UCLA because volleyball becomes your entire life,” Williams
continued. “You practice twice a day and lift weights.
It’s a lot harder work than the training at UCLA.”
Williams, who once said he felt more American than Australian, is
getting back to his roots with all the time he has spent in the
country. “The best thing about being in Australia is being
able to see family that I haven’t seen for a long
time,” he said. “I was born here and spent nine years
here, so it also brings back fond memories.” The Australians
begin play on Sept. 17 and play every other day. In their pool they
will face Cuba, Brazil, the Netherlands, Spain and Egypt. The U.S.
is in the other pool, and the two teams won’t meet unless
both make it to the medal round. As the host country Australia,
playing in its first Olympics in mens’ volleyball ever,
received an automatic bid. They are fielding one of their best
teams ever and in the past two years have defeated teams from the
top 10 like the United States and Brazil. “Hopefully being on
our home turf will give us an advantage,” Williams said.
Still, despite his desire to help Australia go further than it ever
has before, Williams is eager to get back on American soil.
“I miss America because that’s my home,” Williams
said. “I feel comfortable with my family and
friends.”






UCLA’S 2000 OLYMPIANS This year the Bruins sent
a total of 55 athletes and coaches to the Olympics, 42 of them for
the United States and 10 for foreign countires. Below are the
American Olympians. Women’s Basketball
    Natalie Williams (’94) Men’s Beach
Volleyball     Kevin Wong (’95) Women’s Beach
Volleyball     Annett (Buckner) Davis (’94)
    Jenny Johnson Jordan (’95)
    Holly McPeak (’90) Men’s Gymnastics
    Steve McCain (’94) Women’s Gymnastics
    Alyssa Beckerman* (incoming freshman)
    Jamie Dantzscher (incoming freshman)
    Kristen Maloney (incoming freshman) Rowing
    Sally Scovel* (’96) Men’s Soccer
    Brad Friedel (’92)
    Frankie Hejduk (’94)
    Peter Vagenas (’99)
    Sasha Victorine (’99) Women’s Soccer
    Jillian Ellis (Asst. Coach)
    David Vanole (Asst. Coach)
    Joy Fawcett (former UCLA coach)
    Nandi Pryce* (freshman)   Softball
    Christie Ambrosi (’99)
    Jen Brundage (’95)
    Sheila (Cornell) Douty (’84)
    Lisa Fernandez (’93)
    Amanda Freed* (junior)
    Stacey Nuveman (junior)
    Dot Richardson (’83) Track & Field
    Amy Acuff (’97), high jump
    Andrea Anderson (’98), 4x400m relay
    Shelia Burrell (’95), heptathlon
    Gail Devers (’88), 100m hurdles
    Dawn Dumble (’95), shot put
    John Godina (’95), discus & shot put
    Mebrahtom Keflezighi (’98), 10,000m
    Suzy Powell (’98), discus
    Seilala Sua (’00), discus
    Ato Boldon (’96), – Trinidad & Tobago,
100m, 200m Men’s Volleyball     Dan Landry
(’93)     Jeff Nygaard (’95)
    Erik Sullivan (’95) Men’s Water Polo
    Dan Hackett (’91)
    Sean Kern (senior) Women’s Water Polo
    Guy Baker (coach)
    Robin Beauregard (junior)
    Nicolle Payne (’98)
    Coralie Simmons (’00)
    Catharine von Schwarz* (’00) *signifies
alternate SOURCE: Sports Info


Original by JACOB LIAO/Daily Bruin Web Adaptation by HERNANE
TABAY/Daily Bruin Senior Staff UCLA OLYMPIANS FOR OTHER
COUNTRIES
This year the Bruins sent a total of 52 atheltes
and coaches to the Olympics, 42 of them for the United States and
10 for foreign countries. Below are the American Olympians. SOURCE:
Sports Info Original by JACOB LIAO/Daily Bruin Web Adaptation by
HERNANE TABAY/Daily Bruin Senior Staff

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