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She May Look Like Just a Tyke on a Bike, but Colleen Is Really a World Champion

It’s been a tough five years on the dirt track motocross circuit for Colleen Gomez of Irvine.

She’s traveled in and out of the country and this year won not only a world championship in Whistler, Canada, but also the grand nationals in Louisville. That’s demanding on an 8-year-old.

“I’m going to retire when I’m 11,” third-grader Colleen announced in her living room as she reviewed a videotape of the World Cup championship race she won while competing against seven finalists from an original 28 in her age group, including Amy Bell, 8, of Yorba Linda, who finished seventh.

“I’m going to try tennis,” she said while blowing bubble gum and showing off her trophies from dirt bicycle motocross tracks in Irvine, Orange and Yorba Linda and at some of the 450 other national and international tracks. The 100 or more huge trophies cover a quarter of the family’s two-car garage, her room and the living room.

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Her thoughts about switching to another sport may be good news for parents Barbara and Ray Gomez. Ray said that his daughter’s bicycle racing this year will cost about $10,000, which includes expenses for equipment, clothes and flying to the various competition sites. And that’s the parents’ cost despite having a bicycle manufacturer sponsor Colleen.

The 12-pound race bicycle used by some of the estimated 100,000 BMXers (bicycle motocrossers) nationwide costs about $700, while other expenses include padded race togs, helmet, gloves and shoes as well as entrance fees to weekly races.

“Actually Colleen is a shy little girl,” her schoolteacher mother said, “but she does seem to work better under pressure.”

How does it feel being a world champion at age 8?

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“Feels good,” Colleen said after popping a bubble.

Cub Scoutmaster John Runion of Anaheim’s Pack 767, which raised $100 by collecting newspaper and aluminum cans to sponsor a wolf for a year under the Wildlife Savers program at the Los Angeles Zoo, took his Cubs to visit their honorary member. “It’s so beautiful, I’d like to take it home,” one remarked. They left without it.

Orange Police Department Investigator Steve Ames, 32, of Santa Ana, who was selected to star as himself in a 15-minute training film about diabetics after he aided a weaving diabetic driver last year, said that his acting career is now over.

“I don’t think it ever began,” he quipped. “When I got in front of the camera and tried to say something intelligent-sounding, I would get tongue-tied.”

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Although modest about the film, “Diabetes: Living on the Edge,” that will be shown to law enforcement personnel nationwide, the articulate former motorcycle officer is not reluctant to talk about the estimated 500 motorists he has arrested for driving under the influence.

Acknowledgments--Cynthia Nan Selby, 43, of Yorba Linda, formerly of Sacramento Symphony Orchestra, was hired as administrative director of Orange County Chamber Orchestra. . . . Charla McNeff, 44, of Mission Viejo, active in volunteer work, was named director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) for south Orange County.


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