SPORTS

US swimmers positive about 2004 security

NEW YORK (AFP) – Triple Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg voiced confidence in security arrangements for this year’s Athens Games, and said he was reserving his concerns for his own preparations. «You hope nothing is going to happen,» said Krayzelburg, the 100-meter backstroke world recordholder who won gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke and the 4x100m medley relay at the 2000 Sydney Games. The 28-year-old, a naturalized American who was born in Odessa, acknowledged that security, long a major issue for the Olympics, had taken on new urgency in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on US targets. But Krayzelburg, who spoke Tuesday at the launching of the new high-tech competitive swimsuit, said he wasn’t worried. «The Olympics are a celebration of world sport. It is a unique experience. People will be coming from all over the world. I am looking at this as a positive experience,» said Krayzelburg. «My main concern is to win. We will be well taken care of. There are so many other things to worry about, like training and being ready for your events. I like the build-up and all the sideshows, pressure and extra activities leading up to the Olympics. I enjoy it. If you don’t, you shouldn’t be there.» Amanda Beard, 22, who shares the 200m breaststroke world record and will be competing in her third Olympics, said: «I’m very comfortable with security. We always have had good security at Olympics and international events. I am not nervous, and I hope everything runs smoothly.» More than 50,000 members of the security forces and emergency services will be directly involved in protecting the athletes, officials and visitors in Athens at a cost for Greece of more than 650 million euros (820 million dollars). But Beard, who hopes to become involved in marketing after she graduates from the University of Arizona, is focusing on the historic aspect of the host city. She has added a course in Western civilization to her curriculum and is also learning about the culture of Greece. «It will be great to see the Olympics back where they started. All Olympics are special, but this, I think, will be a different kind of special. They will be back home and it will be historic,» she said.