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Beasley Rides Out Butterflies in Winning Olympic Spot in Men’s Single

April 14, 1996

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) _ Cyrus Beasley overcame a bad case of nervousness and Ruth Ann Davidon ignored a painful rib injury to earn their first-ever Olympic rowing berths Sunday.

``I’ve had serious butterflies since I got here, and I was just wanting to get here,″ Beasley said after winning the single sculls by more than four boat lengths. The victory earned him the event spot on the U.S. rowing delegation that will compete in the Atlanta Games this summer.

The defending national champion said he came in with a lot of confidence and knew he had a good shot at winning. That confidence built after Beasley easily won his preliminary and semifinal heats and his first final Friday.

But the rower who tried to preserve his concentration by not talking to reporters until after Sunday’s final, had to wait out an off day Saturday.

``I was just wishing it was Sunday,″ said Beasley, 24, of Newburyport, Mass.

Davidon of Haverford, Pa., won the final to represent the United States in the women’s single sculls as the U.S. Olympic rowing trials concluded Sunday, filling in 48 spots.

A veteran of three national teams in single sculls, Davidon hurt herself two weeks ago in training. But she won her second final by more than seven seconds with a time of 8 minutes, 7.7 seconds over the 1 1/4-mile course.

``Every race makes it worse,″ Davidon said. ``I had to be conservative in all my races. I would’ve liked to race for time, but my husband said no. ... He said: `Win and heal.‴

Rowers had to win two of three finals, and only the men’s double sculls went to a third final Sunday afternoon at the Lake Lanier venue.

The U.S. rowing delegation is the third-largest to the Olympics behind the track and field and swimming teams. The United States already has berths in all the Olympic rowing categories except the men’s and women’s double sculls, which will try to qualify in June in Switzerland.

Michelle Knox Zaloom and Jennifer Devine of the National Training Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., took the women’s double sculls. Ty Bennion and Andrew McMarlin held off Greg Lewis and Greg Walker of the National Training Center in Augusta, Ga., in the deciding race after Lewis and Walker forced the third final by winning Sunday morning.

Adam Holland, who won a silver medal at the 1994 World Championships, and Mike Peterson led all the way Sunday in winning the men’s pair. Karen Kraft and Melissa Schwen, world silver medalists last year, held off eight former teammates and pulled away over the last 500 meters in the women’s pair.

The American crews for the men’s and women’s eight and the men’s coxless four were set before the trials began, and they raced in rowovers to officially qualify.

The 1996 Olympics will feature three new lightweight categories, two for men and one for women.

Steve Peterson, a 1990 world champion, and Tom Auth will be the United State’s lightweight double scullers. Lindsay Burns and Teresa Z. Bell of the National Training Center in Chattanooga won their second final in lightweight double sculls by more than 12 seconds.

In the lightweight coxless four, Jeffrey Pfaendtner, David Collins, Marcus Schneider and William Carlucci from the National Training Center at Princeton beat out two other crews from the center.