Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

7-20 Athletes Put NM on Map

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Ah, the memories. In what Gov. Bill Richardson called "One of the biggest sports announcements in the history of the state," we learned that the U.S.A. Track & Field Indoor Championships will be held in Albuquerque the next three years.
The last time they were held in Albuquerque was in 1966. Back then, the Duke City was a major stop on the indoor track circuit. The meets were held at Tingley Coliseum.
Throughout the '60s, the University of New Mexico had one of the nation's best track teams under the coaching of Hugh Hackett. The team featured record holders such as Adolph Plummer, John Baker, Buster Quist and Clarence Robinson.
Lobo outdoor track meets drew 10,000 fans, many times larger than Lobo basketball games until the arrival of coach Bob King in the early '60s. The track program produced many All-Americans, NCAA champions, Olympians and at least one world record holder.
Track meets were fun to watch and they still are. There is always a track event and two or three field events going at the same time. ESPN will televise the meet live Feb. 25-26, 2010.
The president of U.S.A. Indoor Track and Field said at the news conference, "We are glad to be returning. Albuquerque is a cradle of great athletics. Indoor track used to receive a lot of glory here."
Congratulations to the New Mexico Sports Authority and the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau for putting New Mexico back on the map of track and field.
* * *
While we're on the subject, let's take a look at others in the world of sports who are helping humanity realize there is something other than a black hole between Texas and Arizona.
Mine That Bird, surprise winner of the Kentucky Derby and in the money at the Preakness and Belmont is taking a well-deserved rest after the grueling Triple Crown of horse racing. Only one other horse lasted for all three races.
Trainer Chip Woolley has been working him out at Churchill Downs, site of his great victory. He will enter three more major races this year and maybe four. New Mexico jockey Mike Smith of Roswell will be on him for at least the next two races.
Actually Mine That Bird has not spent much of his three years in New Mexico. He was bred in Kentucky, raced as a two-year-old in Canada, then came to New Mexico for two races at Sunland Park.
But he will be known as a New Mexican as long as Roswell owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach keep him. They and Woolley will always be known as the cowboys from New Mexico that set the Derby crowd on its ear.
And it doesn't hurt that Woolley is the epitome of a cowboy and not the Kentucky gentleman folks are accustomed to back there.
* * *
Albuquerque's Notah Begay III is making news for getting golfer Tiger Woods into his four-man NB3 Foundation Challenge. They will play a skins game with two other big names, on Aug. 24, at the Oneida Nation Golf Course, near Verona, NY.
Begay and Woods were teammates and roommates while leading Stanford to NCAA championships. Begay was a three-time All American. Early in his professional career he shot a 59 on the 1998 Nike Tour.
That got him on the PGA Tour the following year. He had two tour wins in both 1999 and 2000 and appeared headed for stardom but a bad back from weightlifting has hindered him ever since.
In 2005, Begay established his nonprofit foundation to provide health and wellness education to Native American youth in the form of soccer and golf programs.
The only full-blooded Native American ever on the PGA Tour, Begay is concerned about the disproportionate incidence of obesity and diabetes among Native American youth. His programs have been implemented in New Mexico and in tribal communities across the country.
MON, 7-20-09

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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