SWIMMER JESSICALONG is a big fish in the Paralympic world, but she knew she was in a muchlarger pond when she attended the Sullivan Award banquet in New York City lastweek. Long, 15, was one of 15 finalists for the award, which has been given tothe nation's top amateur athlete annually since 1930. Among the other nomineeswere Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, Florida forward Joakim Noah, Tenneseeforward Candace Parker and six Olympic medal winners. Long won nine gold medalsat the Paralympic world championships in Durban, South Africa, in December andhas set 14 Paralympic swimming world records, but she figured she'd beapplauding for someone else. She didn't even prepare a victory speech.
But Long's namewas called, making her the first Paralympian to win the award. A home-schooledhigh school freshman from Middle River, Md., Long was born in Irkutsk, Russia,without most of the major bones in both of her legs. She was adopted from anorphanage by Beth and Steve Long in 1993; after she arrived in the U.S.,doctors amputated her legs below the knee.
To aid in hertherapy the Longs encouraged Jessica to be active: As a child she woreprosthetic legs that allowed her to participate in rock climbing, basketball,gymnastics and skiing, and at age 10 she took up competitive swimming. Shebegan winning races for disabled swimmers within a year, without prosthetics."She inspires us every day," says Steve, a supervisor with BaltimoreGas & Electric Company. "The way she goes about life, she'sfearless."
Long won threegolds at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. In South Africa she set world marks inthe 100-meter freestyle, 400 free, 100 butterfly, 200 IM and 4 √ó 100 freestylerelay. She's already making plans for the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. "Iwant anyone with a disability to be able to say, 'If she can do that, I can dosomething else,'" she says. "I want them not to be upset about theirdisabilities, because there's nothing they can't do."
By Ruslan Chagaev, the WBA heavyweight title with a majority decision overNikolai Valuev in Stuttgart, Germany. Despite giving away 11 inches and 90pounds to the 7-foot, 319-pound champ, Chagaev (above, right) stood toe-to-toewith Valuev and outslugged him. He improved to 23-0 1; Valuev dropped to 46--1,dashing his hopes of surpassing Rocky Marciano's career mark of 49 wins withouta loss. Chagaev, a 28-year-old from Uzbekistan who calls himself White Tysonsaid, "For everybody who said Nikolai was too big and heavy for me, wellit's not important that I am smaller now, is it?"
By Floyd Landis, the latest round in his ongoing battle with the U.S.Anti-Doping Agency. Last week an arbitration panel ruled that USADA can testmore of Landis's urine samples from the 2006 Tour de France, which he won aftermaking up a huge deficit in the 17th of the race's 20 stages. Landis testedpositive for elevated levels of testosterone after that stage. The new testswill be performed on B samples from earlier stages. In each case the A sampleshowed no banned substances. "Judging by their actions, USADA is on afishing expedition," said Landis, who faces a USADA hearing on May 14.
By NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the entire 2007 season, Adam (Pacman)Jones, 23. The Titans' cornerback has been questioned by police at least 10times since entering the league in 2005. Bengals receiver Chris Henry, 23, whowas arrested four times between December '05 and June '06, was banned for eightgames. After announcing the penalties, Goodell unveiled even tougher personalconduct standards. The new policy includes longer suspensions (Goodell didn'tspecify how long), and teams can now be held responsible for their players'off-the-field behavior, which could result in a team being docked draftchoices. The suspensions and the new policy were welcomed by most players andcoaches in the league—but not by Jones. "I really didn't agree withit," he said. "But for the most part, I'm taking it like a man. I'mgoing to appeal it."
At age 84, novelist Kurt Vonnegut. In 1954, Vonnegut—a talented young writerwho confessed to knowing next to nothing about sports—was hired to write forSI, which had yet to begin publishing. One of his first assignments was towrite a caption about a racehorse who had jumped the rail at Aqueduct andgalloped across the infield. Vonnegut pondered the task, typed one sentence andthen walked out of his office, never to return. His caption: The horse jumpedover the f—ingfence. SI's loss was literature's gain. Cat's Cradle came out in1963, and in '69 he published his most famous work, the semiautobiographicalSlaughterhouse-Five.
At age 73 of complications from a stroke, Warren Strelow, an assistant coach onthe 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. A longtime goaltending coach, Strelowmentored Jim Craig, who didn't allow more than three goals in any of his sevengames as the U.S. won the gold. Strelow was also an assistant on the 2002 U.S.team, which won the silver. He worked for the Capitals and the Devils, where hedeveloped Martin Brodeur, before joining the Sharks in 1997. "We will misshim, but he will always be in my heart," said Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov."The one thing he always wanted was a Stanley Cup, so we've got to give itto him."
By the U.S. Olympic Committee as its candidate to host the 2016 Summer Games,Chicago. The city, which has never hosted an Olympics, would have to buildseveral new facilities, including a temporary 80,000-seat stadium in WashingtonPark. Los Angeles, which hosted the 1932 and '84 Games, was the other finalist."It's just beginning," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago's bid committeechairman. "It's a long road." The IOC will award the Games in 2009.Bids are also expected from Madrid, Prague, Rome, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.
After a career in which he made four Pro Bowls, quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Inhis 14 seasons, Bledsoe, who went to Washington State, threw for 44,611 yards,which ranks seventh in NFL history. In 1996 Bledsoe led the Patriots to theSuper Bowl, where they lost to the Packers. He was New England's starter until2001, when he lost his job to Tom Brady after being injured early in theseason. Bledsoe (left), 35, later played for the Bills and the Cowboys. "Ifulfilled a childhood dream the first time I stepped on an NFL field, and theleague did not let me down one time," he said.
With reckless driving and failure to report an accident, Michael Waltrip. Thestruggling NASCAR driver flipped his SUV outside Charlotte early on the morningof April 7. A passerby called 911, but Waltrip, 43, walked to his home nearly amile away in his socks before authorities arrived. Waltrip, who wasn'tseriously hurt, said he fell asleep and hadn't been drinking. In his firstseason as one of the drivers of the new Toyota fleet, the two-time Daytona 500champion has failed to qualify for six of seven races.
They Said It
ICHIRO, Mariners outfielder, on facing Red Sox pitcherDaisuke Matsuzaka (in Japanese):
"I hope he arouses the fire that's dormant in the innermost recesses of mysoul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger."
8 Men who have won the Boston Marathon at least threetimes, after Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya was victorious on Monday. (LidiyaGrigoryeva of Russia won the women's race.)
10 Fifty-point games by Kobe Bryant of the Lakers thisseason, the most by an NBA player since Wilt Chamberlain's 30 in 1962--63.
34 Major league games this season for which thegame-time temperature has been below 45°.
10 Sub-45° games during the entire 2006 regularseason.
43 Plate appearances the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano, whosigned a $136 million free agent contract last winter, needed to drive in hisfirst run of the season.
72 Saves made by Vancouver's Roberto Luongo in a 5--4quadruple-overtime win over Dallas on April 11, an NHL record for a goalie inhis first playoff start.
138:06 Length of the Canucks' victory, thesixth-longest playoff game in NHL history.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
The Nova Scotia legislature endorsed a resolutioncriticizing the NHL for scheduling this Saturday's Penguins-Senators playoffgame in the afternoon, when few people were free to watch it.