Something New in the Air Two sports and 15 events will make their debuts in Sydney, adding fresh bounce to the Games

September 10, 2000

Trampoline

For many of us, the trampoline calls to mind images of broken
bodies strewn across backyards all over suburbia. This year's
Olympic bouncers (as they prefer to be known) hope to change
that while bounding in the Sydney Superdome on tramps larger and
more powerful than recreational models. Competitors, male and
female, will spring close to 30 feet in the air while performing
compulsory and optional routines that usually last about 20
seconds. Each bouncer will roll through moves with such names as
barani (front somersault with a half twist), rudi (front
somersault with 1 1/2 twists) and fliffis (double front
somersault with a half twist). The U.S. dominated this sport,
winning every world title from 1964 through '70, but this year
only one American, Jennifer Parilla (ninth and 10th from left),
19, will compete.

Synchronized Diving

In the largest gathering of choreographed aquanauts since Esther
Williams hung up her nose plugs, synchronized diving will join
synchronized swimming in the pool in Sydney. The new event, in
which two divers perform in unison from the three-meter
springboard or 10-meter platform, became a competitive sport
about 10 years ago and was added to the Games in part to
capitalize on diving's popularity on TV. The addition of synchro
is the first significant change in Olympic diving since 1920.
Though it will double the number of events, it won't increase the
number of divers. Pairs will be chosen from the athletes who
qualified for their country's teams as individuals. U.S. diver
Troy Dumais (left) made it to Sydney; brother Justin (right)
didn't.

Taekwondo

It may be new to the Olympics, but "the way of hand and foot"
(which is what taekwondo means in Korean) has been practiced on
the Korean peninsula for more than 2,000 years. Unlike a judo
match, in which competitors grapple with each other to score a
decisive ippon with throws and submission holds, a taekwondo bout
is a flurry of acrobatic kicks and punches. Imagine a less
cartoonish version of the fighting in the Jean-Claude Van Damme
epic Kickboxer. Combatants square off with bare feet and fists in
duels that consist of three three-minute rounds. Points are
awarded for blows to the head, abdomen and sides, and competitors
are penalized for such infractions as throwing an opponent,
striking him in the back or punching him in the face. (A kick to
the face, however, is legal.) Victory can come on points or by
knockout, and medals will be awarded to men and women in four
weight classes. One member of America's first family of
taekwondo, Steven Lopez (left and sixth from left, with siblings
Mark, Jean and Diana), will compete in Sydney. The Muscles from
Brussels, alas, will not.

Women's Hammer Throw

Sixteen years after the IOC concluded that women were sturdy
enough to compete in an Olympic marathon, the Games have gone
hurly-girly for gender equity. The hammer throw in Sydney will be
one of six new women's competitions (modern pentathlon, pole
vault, water polo, weightlifting and the time trial in track
cycling are the others) in events previously reserved for men.
The best female tossers will spin three to four times inside a
seven-foot circle before hurling an eight-pound, 13-ounce ball
and chain close to 250 feet, about 30 feet less than the top men
propel their 16-pound implements. Ironically, male throwers
commonly heaved-ho in a skirt some 400 years ago, when the
precursor to the hammer was contested by brawny men in tartan
kilts launching sledgehammers and wagon wheels across the
Scottish countryside. As they throw for the gold in Sydney, U.S.
champ Dawn Ellerbe (left) and her rivals will definitely not wear
skirts.

TWO COLOR PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOE MCNALLY/PRODUCED BY NINA SABO GATEFOLD TWO COLOR PHOTOS: PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOE MCNALLY/PRODUCED BY NINA SABO

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)