Shake-Up at ARCO Center
JANUARY 14, 2003

by Paul Smith

     CHULA VISTA (RWI)-The USATF High Performance Committee, chaired by
Brooks Johnson, has a primary focus of evaluating Olympic medal
possibilities for the USA at the 2004 Athens Games, and to watch over 
activities at the ARCO Sports Training Center here.

     Johnson, who was recently assigned to oversee the track and field
contingent training at ARCO Center for the 2004 Olympics,  informed
Racewalking International (RWI) that six (6) track and field athletes,
including two (2) race walkers, have been axed from the Center's roster
based on their 2002 achievements.  The rooms have been reassigned.  However,
the athletes have full priviledges available to them should they choose to
remain in the Southern California region.

     "Athletes are expected to achieve "A" times or at least a "B"
performance with a good chance of moving into the "A" level performance,"
according to Johnson, "before being invited to the ARCO camp."  Although a
number of applicants many times do not have a "B" standard when they apply,
the applicants may be accepted if they are  making progress and expect to
reach the standard in a reasonable amount of time.

     "We want medals and looking at track and field and race walking, we
have a good chance of winning 24 to 29 medals in 2004," Johnson said.

     The ARCO Center, according to Johnson, "must be looked at as a
'performance oriented facility,' a place for elite or near elite to live,
train and show continued performance enhancements.  It costs approximately
$40 a day to house an athlete.  This includes food, medical services, room
upkeep, and other special amenities available at this top-notch athletic
training venue."

     John MacLachlan, RWI CEO, expressed his support for the High
Performance Committee decisions.  "We must strive to produce athletes of the
highest caliber and keep that improvement going until we crack the highest
levels around the world.  The ARCO venue should be respected as the center
of highest achievement and not just another training site."

     Johnson also told MacLachlan that the High Performance Committee is
looking at race walking as a possible medal opportunity based on the
performances of Curt Clausen, America's record holder in the 50K.  "Curt is
the man," Johnson said, when referring to America's chances in the walks. 
"We have put $30,000 on the line to keep Coach Enrique Pena in the Chula
Vista area providing Clausen and the USA walking team with an
internationally acclaimed coach.  Johnson noted that, "this sum for Coach
Pena will be available through 2003, but his walkers or any other athletes
must show promise to keep receiving support through USATF."

     Pena, who may be the highest paid walking coach in the world, receives
additional support from the athletes and other funds funneled through a
Southern California-centered support group.  Pena, according to Johnson,
said, "Curt needs at least two (2) walking teammates able to train at the
highest levels to achieve the world ranking (Olympic medal) goals outlined
by the USATF High Performance Committee.

     Originally six (6) beds were allocated to US walkers at the ARCO
Center.  There are still beds allocated for walkers, but only two  walkers
have "performance" times meeting the new USATF standards, and there are no
women residing at ARCO or coached by Pena.  US Team members not living at
the Center may be given day privileges which allows an athlete access to
many of the Center's amenities except for room accommodations.

     Many in the race walking community know Clausen, 35, is "the man," but
they also are looking for someone to replace Curt.  Clausen has been walking
since 1986 when he won the USA Junior 10K and has gone on to set marks
likely to stand for years.  The question is:  Who will meet the "high
performance standards" required to live and train at the ARCO venue after
the 2004 Olympics?

     Enjoy race walking around the world with RWI.

(For more information regarding race walking go to the RWI website at  News about Youth Development programs, Collegiate
Race Walking Grand Prix opportunities, clinics and more updated with
breaking news.  Keep checking for the new RWI Video Wall programmed by Gary
Shuluk.  E-mail us with questions or suggestions at

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