Rick Monk's Games coverage
by Jim Provenzano
The San Francisco Track and Field Club celebrated their Gay Games VI victories last weekend at a team party, and deservedly so, having racked up over 90 medals among their 32 competitors in nearly every age group.
The women worked as hard as the men. Coach and runner Carmen Morrison remained an inspiration, running through a injury to win seven medals, four of them gold. Amy Norquist won heptathlon and other events. Nora McLoughlin enjoyed her first Gay Games as a novice very new to track and field.
Allen Eggman and Luke Cottrill, previously interviewed, also took medals in Field events.
"Of these medal winners, fourteen were competing in their first Gay Games. They're hooked now," said team co-founder Rick Thoman, a six-time Games medalist.
Thoman described Giampiero Mancinelli, a first-time track competitor, and previous soccer medalist, as "a perpetual source of upbeat, positive fun for the team. He always had us laughing, and was a gutsy competitor as well. Anytime a 5' 7" guy steps into the hammer throw ring and throws for a third-place bronze beyond the other hulking athletes; well, that takes balls and brawn!"
Coach Frank Demby "couldn't have been more proud of a group than a mother could be," he said. Having concluded a successful several years of coaching for the team, for Demby, "It was my kind of swan song. It was a bittersweet farewell."
Demby will still compete in upcoming meets leading up to Gay Games VII in Montreal. Demby said he felt, "incredibly proud to carry the team to a notoriety that they've achieved over the past 20 years, to be one of the teams to beat. We had new people who were unsure of themselves, we told them 'You have the power within yourself to do that' to be who they want to be."
Also an official, he said he felt happy "to stand on the sidelines and hear other officials say, 'My gosh, look at that San Francisco team.' I got kind of get teary-eyed."
He counted Berlin and Seattle as the toughest competitors. "Overall, the attitude was to have a good time. There was no animosity, no one-upsmanship. It's serious when you get to the starting line, but once the race is over, they were best friends."
With their subtly symbolic cheetah pattern gracing the sides of their singlets (designed by Demby), records were broken and races in events won at many levels.
It's all what Demby called, "the legacy of San Francisco, the talent the team has shown over the years." That talent stretches back to Gay Games I, where Games co-founder and former Olympian Tom Waddell medaled in Track events.
MR. LIVINGSTON, I PRESUME
Yet an Olympic track field is home to the former national Field champ. His experience in track has led to helping other field athletes toward their personal best. All the throwing events - discus, hammer, javelin, and shot put - are the preferred events of the Cal Poly San Obispo graduate.
Livingston won four gold medals in the field throwing events, but not without considerable college experience.
"He is the reason we had such a great field event team," said Thoman. "He was ready and willing to share his knowledge with all of us."
Having come out after college, does it mean more to be an out athlete?
"Oh, hell, yeah," Livingston said. "All my fraternity brothers are behind me - Beta Theta Phi-, my parents, everybody I work for. At my fraternity alumni meeting, they announced in front of everybody that I was competing here. It was pretty cool."
Brotherhood extends to Livingston's artistic life as well. He just had his first book published, Dreams, Like White Elephants, a novel about a gay man's coming out in a college fraternity.
Snowden then ran at Chico State, but then broke a femur. His coach helped him back into running. "I still ran for the love of the sport."
After moving to San Francisco in 1992, where he soon joined the San Francisco Track & Field Club, Snowden learned of Gay Games, and competed in New York's Games in 1994. That year, he was honored with a Cable Car Award, presented by Mayor Willie Brown.
Snowden's hoping to attend the US National Indoor Masters Championships, where he won Pentathlon in 2001, and also gold in Long Jump.
Amsterdam in 1998 was also a success, Snowden said of his golds in 110 hurdles and triple jump, bronze in 4X100 relay, and a silver in long jump.
"It was the first time, being on a completely different continent," he said. "It opened up the completely different crowd of participants and spectators that didn't get to attend."
A lot of long-time friendly rivalries between fellow Games competitors helped inspire him. Sydney's track events included "a lot of familiar faces," Snowden said. "We hang out every four years, but it's hard to keep up."
In New York he was the oldest in the 18-29 category. "That was the most challenging for me," said the 37-year-old. "But I'm not running as fast as I did when I was younger. You hit an age where you know your times aren't going to be as fast, so you just want to maintain."
MOORE IS MORE
"I was in good shape," Moore said. "I just needed to learn some of the more technical events, like triple jump and throwing events."
Born in Toronto to Caribbean parents, Moore spent ten years in England. His successful high school track years were followed by years of playing field hockey for some international teams. Moore dove back into track after an 18-year absence.
"I didn't want to do field hockey, since I didn't want to be too serious about it," he said.
To prepare for Sydney, Moore competed in Seattle last year in a few events with other SF tracksters, as well as Nationals last July. A hamstring injury nearly cancelled his Sydney trip, but he recovered.
"One of the major accomplishments is doing all these events all week without getting injured," Moore said.
He finds the only difference in being on a gay team to be "affirming, in a sense that a lot of these guys competed in top colleges. They're not just gay. They're athletes who are gay."
He did note some "hugging and kissing, but apart from that, everyone was pretty serious. That's the fun part of it. You felt a freedom."
"There's a lot of challenges and national issues about the Games. At one point, I didn't think I was going to go." Having built up one victory after another, Moore said he was "relishing the accomplishment, kind of quietly. The last day was the only day I got very emotional."
But Moore remained modest. "I never slung all thirteen medals around my neck," he said. "I thought it was a little gaudy. I didn't want to be putting it in anyone's face. Three or four were fine. One gentleman who won a bronze in relays with us when he didn't have a team was just thrilled."
It seems even winners a dozen times over can embody the Games spirit.
SF TRACK & FIELD MEDALS TALLY32 athletes, 92 medals -- 35 gold - 23 silver - 33 bronze
Aggie Alkabaz: 1 silver (4x100 relay)
Patti Chang: 2 gold (4x100 & 4x200 relays), 1 silver (4x100 relay)
Luke Cottrill: three gold medals; shot put, discus, hammer throw. He also took a gold in powerlifting.
Dave Dibley: 1 gold in Hammer throw, 2 bronze in the 4x100 & 4x200 relays.
Allen Eggman: 1 gold in pole vault, 3 silver in decathlon, high jump, 4x400 relay, and 1 bronze in javelin.
Carlos Ferreira: 1 silver long jump and 1 bronze in javelin.
Ross Hayduk: silver in hammer throw.
Kenny Patterson: silver in the 4x200 relay.
Randy Sprinkle: 3 bronze (4x100, 4x200 & 4x400 relays)
Brian Jung: 2 bronze (Discus & Hammer throw)
Fred Kluth: 2 silver (4x400 & sprint medley relays)
Russ Livingstone: 4 gold (Shot put, discus, hammer throw, javelin)
Giampiero Mancinelli: his 3 bronzes were in the hammer, 4x100 and 4x400
Chuck Martin: 1 bronze (triple jump)
Nora McLoughlin: 1 silver (Hammer throw)
Drew Monaghan: 1 silver (110m high hurdles), 4 bronze (400m Intermediate hurdles, 4x100, 4x200 & 4x400)
Curtis Moore: 6 gold (100m, 200m, 400m, long jump, shot put and sprint medley relay), 3 silver (triple jump, javelin and 4x100 relay), 4 Bronze, (discus, 4x100, 4x200 & 4x400 relays)
Mike Moorefield: 4 gold (4x100, 4x200 and discus, hammer throw)
Carmen Morrison: 4 gold (4x100, 4x200, 4x400 & sprint medley relays), 1 silver (sprint medley relay), 2 bronze (200m & discus)
Garland Murphy: 1 silver (5000m race walk)
Brian Mutert: 2 gold (400m intermediate hurdles & high jump), 2 silver (110m high hurdles & 4x400 relay), 1 bronze (triple jump)
Bruce Nickerson: 1 gold (4x200 relay)
Amy Norquist: 2 gold (Heptathlon & high jump), 1 silver (long jump)
Ken Patterson: 2 silvers: 4x200 and Sprint Medley relays
Brett Pressley: 4 bronze (javelin, shot put, 4 x100 & 4x400 relays)
Reggie Snowden: 2 gold (110m high hurdles, triple jump), 2 bronze (long jump & 4x100 relay)
Rick Thoman: silver in the 4x400 relay, and a bronze in shot put.
Gwynn Villegas: 1 gold (110m high hurdles), 1 silver (400m intermediate hurdles), and two bronze medals in the 4x100 & 4x400 relay.