More than 2,000 athletes from 24 countries will compete in the inaugural Australia Games to be held in Melbourne, Jan. 26-Feb. 3. Some of the world's best athletes, including the Russian and Bulgarian national weightlifting teams who boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics, will compete in the the sporting festival in 21 "high and medium profile" sports. The "high profile" sports are track and field, swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics, hockey, boxing, cycling, basketball, netball, diving, water polo, lawn bowls and surf life-saving. The "medium profile" sports are judo, badminton, volleyball, softball, wrestling, squash, shooting and trampolining. For the first time in Australia, a major sports festival will have integrated events for the disabled, the deaf, the blind, parapalegic and quadraplegic athletes. Some of the star performers will be world 100 meter record-holder Calvin Smith of the United States, and two of the strongest men in the world, Russian weightlifters Anatoli Pisarenko and Alesandra Gunyashev. Smith is competing in both the 100 and 200. Gunyashev is the world record holder in the super-heavyweight division with a lift of 465 kilograms and between them, the Russian and Bulgarian visiting weightlifting teams hold 38 world senior and junior records. At least three Olympic cycling gold medalists will compete among the 20 overseas riders who have accepted invitations. American gold medal winners, Steve Hegg and Mike Gorski will take on 19 Australians, including Olympic gold medal winner, Dean Woods. The bulk of the track and field competition will be an under-20 meet between England, New Zealand and Australia. But, as well as Smith, the open section as attracted several outstanding athletes, inclduding pole-vaulters Larry Jessee from the United States and Wladislaw Kozakiewicz of Poland. British cross-country star Tim Hutchings has also confirmed his appearance as has high-jumper Jacek Wzola of Poland. High-quality performances can be expected from the diving events. Top Americans, Michelle Mitchell, silver medal winner at Los Angeles, and bronze medal winner Ron Marriott are competing against a top team of Chinese men and women. China is also sending a team for the water polo event. The Games is the biggest sporting event held in Melbourne since the 1956 Olympic Games and the city is well equipped to stage the "mini-Olympics." In addition to the main Olympic Park stadium, which has a new international standard synthetic track, new stadiums have been built recently to accommodate basketball, gymnastics, netball, hockey, boxing and cycling. The new State Swimming Center with underwater viewing will be used to host a series of aquatic events including synchronized swimming. Officials and competitors will be housed in various Melbourne University Colleges within easy distance of the sports venues. The Australian Federal Minister of Sport, John Brown, has announced the American television network, PBS, had contracted to take one hour's coverage of the Games daily and would distribute the footage to 308 television stations across the United States. Brown said the Games would be watched by up to 50 million Americans and was a great boost for the festival. The chairman of the Australian Games Foundation, Jim Barry, said it was hoped the Games would be held every two years and would give Australia's athletes world class competition at home on a regular basis for the first time.
United Press International
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