John Smallwood: Athletes' parents pay price

Posted: August 07, 2012

WE'VE HEARD the stories about how expensive it can be for families to raise an Olympic-level athlete.

Sports like gymnastics and swimming don't just require time, effort and determination, but also a lot of money.

Well, Natalie Hawkins, the mother of new Olympic gymnastic all-around champion Gabby Douglas, and Steve and Ike Lochte, the parents of swimmer Ryan Lochte, are feeling the financial crunch.

TMZ reported that just a few months ago, Hawkins filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and that the Lochtes are fighting off foreclosure on their home.

Reporting from documents filed this year in Virginia, Hawkins had assets totaling $163,706.10 and debt totaling $79,754.14.

Hawkins began a structured payment plan to creditors of $408 per month in February.

No worries now, though.

Douglas is expected to turn her gold medal into millions of dollars in endorsements, which should quickly help relieve momma of her financial woes - forever.

Among those creditors thrilled about Douglas' Olympic windfall, an orthodontist in Iowa - where Gabby was sent to train at 14 - who undoubtedly had something to do with her Madison Avenue Smile.

Numerous reports say that the Lochtes, who divorced in 2010, have failed to make the $1,609.58 monthly payment on their $258,000 mortgage since February 2011.

CitiMortgage filed a lawsuit, which Ike Lochte has filed to have dismissed.

Ryan Lochte has a number of lucrative endorsements, but according to spokeswoman Erika Wright, Ike Lochte, "has refused to accept financial assistance from her children because she wants to do what she can as a woman, mother and adult to handle her own matters without taking money from her kids."

Take the help. It will likely make her kids feel better than seeing her lose her home.

Ladies get ready to rummmmmmmble

The British Olympic Committee did not fly in Hall of Fame boxing ring announcer Michael Buffer, but it did turn the debut of women's Olympic boxing on Sunday into a lights-and-sound production worthy of a Las Vegas setting.

Women's boxing was banned in Great Britain until 1996, but now 36 fighters from 23 teams and six continents are mixing it up in front of enthusiastic crowds over 5 days.

The sport did not have its first world championship tournament until 2001. That event was held in Scranton and two participants - 32-year-old Anna Laurell, of Sweden, and 29-year-old MC Mary Kom, of India, are fighting in London.

Not surprisingly, the sport is littered with stories of sexism and prejudice.

Cuba, long a super power in Olympic boxing, refused to send a women's team and even the International Boxing Association (AIBA), which has long supported women's boxing, gave into sexist thinking.

Earlier this year AIBA president Wu Ching-kuo hinted that women fighters should wear skirts because some fans said they could not tell women from men when they were in head gear.

Sensible heads prevailed.

The United States and China are the only nations with fighters in all three weight classes (112, 132 and 165).

Elena Savelyeva of Russia won the first-ever match by beating Kim Hye Song of the People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), 12-9, in a 112-pound bout.

Queen Underwood continued the USA's horrendous showing in boxing by losing, 21-13, to Natasha Jonas of Great Britain at 132 pounds.

Tattoo YouSA

According to tattoo parlors in London, the five interlocked Olympic rings are the most popular with tourist.

Guess who leads the way with these permanent reminders of their Olympic experience?

"They're mainly Americans," said Darryl Gates, the owner of Diamond Jacks tattoo parlor. "There's a hell of a lot of Americans in town."

Tying times

For the second straight Olympics, gymnast Louis Smith of Great Britain lost out on a higher medal because of a tiebreaker.

On Sunday, the British bad boy scored 16.006 on the pommel horse - the same as Krisztian Berki of Hungary.

But Berki got the gold because of a higher score in execution.

At the Beijing Games, Smith gave Great Britain its first gymnastic medal since 1928 when he won bronze. He lost out on silver because of a tiebreaker.

Things the IOC would like to forget

These days the targets for the Olympic skeet competition are "clay pigeons," but at the 1900 Paris Games, real pigeons were used.

The goal of three "unofficial contests" was to kill as many live pigeons as possible.

The flying rats were released from traps one at a time for shooters to have at them, and the guy who dropped the most birds won. Two misses meant elimination.

Nearly 300 birds were killed and countless others maimed in front of disgusted fans.

Animal rights groups protested.

In 1902, the United States began banning the practice and introduced the clay pigeon now being blasted to smithereens.

Not included in the official IOC Olympic results are the champions from the 1900 Games: David Mackintosh of Australia, who sacked 22 live pigeons in a 20- franc entrance fee event; Leon de Lunden of Belgium, who blasted 21 birds in the 200-franc entrance and Louis Debray who led a 1-2-3 finish by France in the running game target.

Twitter strikes again

How does Miami Heat and USA basketball star LeBron James explain this to his longtime girlfriend and current fiancée Savannah Brinson, the mother of his two sons?

USA swimmer Lauren Perdue, who helped win the gold medal in the 4 x 200-meter relay, recently tweeted from the Olympic village, "Lebron James just invited me to dinner . . . Um wuuuutttt?!?"

King James didn't get this queen. Perdue said she turned him down because she did not want to miss curfew.

Hair raising

Apparently the hairstyle of Olympic champion Gabby Douglas has reignited the tired old black folks debate about "nappy-hair vs. straight hair" on Twitter.

Personally, I think . . . What the hell am I doing? This is too ignorant and stupid to even talk about.


Send email to smallwj@phillynews.com. For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/Smallwood.

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