Minnesota athletes bring home Gay Games medals

Nearly 50 Minnesota athletes gathered in the Amsterdam arena at the close of the Gay Games V on Saturday, Aug. 8--with at least 14 of the gay and lesbian participants sporting gold, silver, or bronze medals.

Minnesotans engaged in at least nine of the 29 competitive sports of these games, including cycling, figure skating, tennis, track and field, rowing, body building, swimming, 10K races, and a full marathon. Some Minnesotans participated in more than one sport during the week, such as tennis player and marathon runner John Kundtz who made it to second-round singles and third-round doubles in men's C tennis and finished the marathon with a time of 3:11.31, just 8 seconds off a personal best set earlier this summer during Grandma's Marathon in Duluth. "More days rest in between would have been nice," Kundtz says, "but I'm happy with the results."

Of the 1,200 swimmers competing in the games, members of the Minnesota Ice Swim Team brought home a fistful of medals. Lindsey Kopp, competing in the 40 to 44 age group, earned a gold, silver, and bronze in the men's 50, 100, and 200-meter breaststroke, respectively. Tom Senn won a gold in the 30 to 34 year-old men's 50-meter backstroke and two silvers for his performances in the men's 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke. Chris Andersen, competing in the 45 to 49 age group, brought home a bronze in both the men's 200-meter backstroke and 400-meter individual medley.

Tennis players Ed Jeffreys and Gregg Holmbeck earned the gold in men's class B doubles, soundly defeating a pair from Palm Springs during the finals. In men's singles, Jerry Artz took the gold in the 55-plus age group. In track and field, Mark Harrison won a silver for his 100-meter dash in the men's 50-plus age group while Dave Ekelund took a bronze for his 400-meter performance.

Surprising himself most of all, Norm Frohwein took the gold in men's age 60-plus body building. "I had worked hard, so this was nice. Really nice," Frohwein says.

Several efforts were close but not quite medal-winning achievements. Team Minnesota Crew members Anne Graham and Deborah Fletcher placed fourth in women's double sculls while the men placed fifth in the males A eights finals. Cyclist Roy Hallenger took fifth in the 30- to 44-year-old licensed men's 80 kilometer race and Minnesota Ice swimmers claimed fifth and sixth place in the 400-meter medley relay.

Friendship through sports and culture was the theme of the '98 Gay Games, the first time the games had been held outside the United States or Canada. A record setting 14,715 participants from 88 countries took part, a full 42 percent of whom were women. Several Minnesotans were also among the estimated 250,000 visitors to Amsterdam during the week of the Games. Sydney, Australia, will host the sixth Annual Gay Games in 2002.

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