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The Seoul Games : Notes : Timmons Doesn’t Have to Draw a Picture to Get Volleyball Point Across

Times Staff Writer

Good-natured, red-headed, tall Steve Timmons, U.S. volleyball standout, was asked Wednesday if he had drawn any stares on the street.

“I’m not an artist,” Timmons said. “How do you draw them?”

Timmons and his teammates, favorites in the men’s competition, are busy preparing for their toughest match to date, Thursday against Argentina, after opening play with victories over the Netherlands and Japan. The Argentines play an aggressive style unlike anything the Americans have faced here so far.

“They have some athletes who can do things with the ball that other teams can’t,” Timmons said. “It’s nothing we can’t handle, but, just the same, we’d better be on our toes.”

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Add volleyball: Some people are beginning to think that with anticipated showdowns in men’s basketball and other team sports losing some of their luster, a championship clash between the United States and Soviet Union in volleyball could become the Olympic highlight.

That sounded good to Timmons, a USC alumnus from Newport Beach.

“I think it would be just totally-- I hate to sound like a Valley guy here--great to have a U.S.-U.S.S.R. final, not to mention extremely important for volleyball interest back in the States,” Timmons said.

“We have great respect for the Soviets and have become good friends with them, which is more than we can say for the Cubans, I can tell you that. I’m glad they’re not here. You get tired of looking at those guys around the Village, acting the way they do.

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“The Soviets show a lot of class on the court, and later you can go out with them for a beer or a vodka. They don’t swear and yell every time you miss a point, the way the Cubans do. Even the Soviets hate to play against the Cubans. Nobody likes those guys.”

In the category of all-for-naught falls the fate of Israeli boxer Yehuda Ben-Heim. Last week, because a contingent of Israeli boxers had defied all International Olympic Committee sanctions and logic by traveling to South Africa to compete in June and July, eligibility here for Ben-Heim and 2 other boxers from Israel was in jeopardy. But after many hours of meetings and politics played out on very high levels, the 3 Israelis--none of whom had gone to South Africa--were allowed to compete.

Wednesday, Ben-Heim withdrew from the boxing tournament because his match fell on Yom Kippur. Awarded a walkover was Majoub M’jirh of Morocco.

At first, it was a puzzling sight: Why were all those South Koreans cheering for a Ghana boxer?

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At Tuesday night’s boxing session at Chamshil Students’ Gymnasium, an entire section of South Korean spectators burst into wild applause when Ghana’s light middleweight, Emmanuel Quaye, entered the ring for his match against Ecuador’s Laurensio Mercado.

A half-dozen long banners were unfurled. One of them said: “We Love Ghana!” Another read: “God Loves Ghana!” And another: “The Victors--Ghana’s Olympic Team!”

When the bout began, the 30-or-so South Koreans in the group cheered wildly every time Quaye so much as flicked out a left jab. They cheered, chanted, sang songs, banged cymbals and slapped wooden sticks together.

“What’s going on over there?” a South Korean newsman was asked.

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“They are Hyundai Engineering employees,” he explained.

“Hyundai has a plant in Ghana. They travel to all venues and cheer Ghana athletes.”

In the second round, Quaye’s fans were abruptly silenced when he was knocked stiff by the Ecuadorean. The cheering stopped, the banners were rolled back up and the South Koreans filed out almost before Quaye was helped back to his corner.

Aouita announces triple threat: Former Olympic track champion Steve Ovett called Said Aouita’s attempt to enter 3 events--the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 meters--in the Seoul Olympics “phenomenal.”

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The world record-holder for the 1,500 meters and world and Olympic titlist in the 5,000, Aouita said in Seoul that he would consider running all 3 events, even though the 5,000 final is only 20 minutes after the 1,500 final on the next-to-last day of the Games.

It also would mean running 10 races in 9 days.

“He probably thinks that the 5,000 is a pretty cushy event for him and that he could win it even though he was fatigued from the 1,500 final,” said Ovett, who won gold and bronze medals at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.

Interviewed in London on Independent Television, the 32-year-old Briton said the triple gold bid might not be beyond the Moroccan, who is rated the best overall middle-distance runner in the world.

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“He’s a fabulous athlete but this schedule would be absolutely phenomenal,” said Ovett, who became the Commonwealth 5,000-meter champion in 1986 after winning the 800-meter gold and 1,500 bronze in Moscow.

The best attended events here in the first three days have been gymnastics, with 100% attendance, and judo, swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and the demonstration sport of badminton, with 99% attendance. All this according to Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee figures. The poorest attendance was 30% at baseball, another demonstration sport, but one with a huge stadium.

Overall on the first three days, there were 3,965,288 tickets available for sale and there were 2,758,185 tickets sold.

Helicopter overboard: A South Korean patrol boat rescued the passengers and crew of an Australian television helicopter that crashed Tuesday while covering a yacht race at the Olympic regatta course.

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“We were in the water for about 20 minutes,” said Michael McDermott, a cameraman for Network 10 interviewed at his hotel in this southern port city.

McDermott said the chartered chopper’s engine failed while it was flying at about 700 feet early Tuesday afternoon. The craft plunged to an emergency water landing in about 20 seconds.

Geography lesson: Sheikh Fahad Al Sabah, an International Olympic Committee member from Kuwait, has filed a protest because Israel’s capital was listed as Jerusalem instead of Tel Aviv on the scoreboard at the Olympic Stadium Saturday during the opening ceremony.

In letters to IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and Park Seh Jik, president of the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee, Fahad complained about the “exploitation of the Games of the XXIV Olympiad for political gold.”

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Although Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, Fahad said that designation has been “rejected by all (other) states of the world.”

Females inquire within: Great Britain’s Andy Jameson, the fastest qualifier for Wednesday’s 100-meter butterfly finals, isn’t shy about making his desires known.

Jameson, 23, had some fun with his personal entry in the Olympic computer network that includes brief biographies. The 1987 European champion in the 100 butterfly listed his hobby as “eating grapes.”

Many athletes leave the personal section blank or emphasize details of their careers. Jameson’s entry reads:

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“I like being fed grapes by lusty Egyptian women. I like spider races. I like red polka dot handkerchiefs. I still can’t sleep at night.”

Protesters, Day 4: About 100 protesters demanding the Olympics be stopped burned a giant U.S. flag and chanted anti-American slogans Wednesday outside the Shilla Hotel, where top Olympic officials are staying.

Rich Schutz, the American weightlifter from Mt. Prospect, Ill., who had to leave here suddenly late last week when he received word that his mother had died, will return here to compete in the 243-pound class.

Times sports editor Bill Dwyre and staff writers Randy Harvey, Earl Gustkey and Tracy Dodds also contributed to this story.

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