Sportswriter/columnist

Member of The Press sports staff since 1986, starting my 27th season as The Press Eagles' beat writer. Also cover boxing, MMA, golf, high school sports and everything else.

Rio Olympics Athletics

China's Wu Shuijiao, left, United States' Nia Ali, second right, and Belarus' Katsyarina Paplauskaya, right, compete in a women's 100-meter hurdles heat during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

I’ve always dreamed of being an Olympian.

I just couldn’t find the right sport.

I’m neither tall enough nor thin enough for swimming. I tried flapping my arms like Michael Phelps does on the starting blocks in my living room last night and nearly tore both rotator cuffs.

Plus, I don’t look that good in a Speedo. And I’m not sure they make a razor blade sharp enough to remove all this body hair.

My gymnastics career ended when I was 12. With some great coaching from classmates Gail Wilsey and Wanda Wise, I made the Cape May Elementary School team as a fifth-grader. During tryouts the following year, however, an awkward landing while attempting to straddle the pommel horse resulted in temporarily changing me from a bass to a soprano while I limped off in search of a bag of frozen peas.

Track and field wouldn’t work. I could never jump that high or long. Considering my fear of heights, pole vault is out of the question. I’ve been known to throw a hammer impressive distances, but only after hitting my thumb.

My sailing experience was reserved for occasional parties at the Corinthian Yacht Club of Cape May. I don’t think I’ve ever lowered a boom, in or out of a boat.

I used to think if they made standup-paddleboarding an Olympic event, I might have a shot. But that was before I entered a 5-mile Bay race in Strathmere earlier this summer. The top paddlers were on their third margarita while watching the sunset behind the Deauville Inn while I was still out there paddling, sweating and swatting greenheads the size of seagulls.

I’ve completed a few triathlons over the years, but I’m not nearly fast enough. Wildwood Crest’s Joe Maloy, who’s competing in the men’s triathlon in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday morning, could swim, bike and run; go out to dinner and take in a movie before I crossed the finish line.

I’ve decided to live vicariously through our local Olympians: hurdler Nia Ali, wrestler Frank Molinaro, Maloy and coxswain Sam Ojserkis.

Ali, a Pleasantville High School graduate, is the first local runner to reach the Olympics since Bridgeton High School’s Nadia Davy ran the 400 meters and earned a bronze medal in the 4 x 400 relay while competing for Jamaica in Athens in 2004. She’s the first local track and field athlete to compete for the United States since Bridgeton long jumper Shana Williams in 1996 and 2000.

Molinaro (Barnegat, Southern Regional High School) and Maloy (Wildwood Crest, Wildwood Catholic are attempting to become the first area male to earn an Olympic medal since Holy Spirit High School graduate John Pescatore won a bronze in rowing as part of the U.S. men’s eight in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea.

Ojserkis (Linwood, Mainland Regional) finished fourth as the coxswain in the men’s eight race on Saturday.

I watched Ojserkis’ race and will be back in front of the TV tonight to watch Ali in action.

Otherwise, I’ll continue to be enthralled and riveted by watching the best athletes in the world in various sports. I’m especially looking forward to seeing if Ashton Eaton can win his second straight gold medal in the decathlon.

I used to think I would have made a pretty good decathlete, based on my performances in the President’s Physical Fitness Test during the late 1960s/early 1970s, just as long as pullups aren’t an Olympic event. I dominated the softball throw and wasn’t bad in the 50-yard dash, 600-yard run — you try running 600 yards in a pair of PF Flyers, then we’ll talk — shuttle run, situps and standing broad jump. But I couldn’t come close to getting my chubby chin over that bar even once.

There was also a time when I thought I’d have a chance as a cyclist, but being adept at pedaling over the West Cape May Bridge and back won’t cut it against guys powering over mountains like they were mole hills.

And like with swimming, there’s also the shaving thing.

(David Weinberg’s Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.)

Contact: 609-272-7201

Twitter @PressACWeinberg

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