U.S. Olympic teams to use high-performance center in Beijing

Monday, February 12th 2007, 10:32 am
By: News On 6

BEIJING (AP) _ If the Americans stay on top of the medal count in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, they may have a Chinese university to thank for it.

``We believe without question, these will be the most competitive games in history,'' Jim Scherr, chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said Monday.

A deal announced Monday in the Chinese capital between the USOC and Beijing Normal University will give the Americans a high-performance training base in the weeks leading up to the Aug. 8-24 Olympic Games.

About two-thirds of the 600-member U.S. delegation is expected to use the facility, located in northwestern Beijing, about 15 minutes from the Athletes' Village.

``It allows the U.S. Olympic athletes to train in conditions that are conducive for high performance,'' said Steve Roush, who heads sports performance for the USOC. ``And it provides the comforts of home with great facilities, good restaurants and sleeping space for our team before the games.''

The United States topped the gold-medal table three years ago in Athens, winning 36 to 32 for China. But as the host nation, China is expected to get a lift this time and, perhaps, surpass the Americans.

Scherr said the United States will probably have to win more than 36 to stay on top. The Americans topped the overall medal table in Athens with 102.

``The Chinese will certainly have a great shot at winning the gold-medal table and the overall count,'' Scherr said. ``It will take north of 40, but maybe fewer than 100 overall.''

``The Chinese fully expect to win both counts.''

China is reported to be training about 20,000 athletes for the games, and British Olympic Association chief executive Simon Clegg recently described China as an emerging ``sporting super state.''

``I don't know if they are out for domination, but they are clearly working hard to make sure their athletes succeed,'' Scherr said. ``They've put in a tremendous amount of energy to ensure their team will be successful.''

American officials said they spent a year looking for the site, which will cost about $750,000 to open and operate. The United States had a similar setup at the American University of Greece before the 2004 Olympics.

``We think this is the last and most important step that will give our athletes a chance to succeed,'' Scherr said.