12 July 2007
IOC SESSION HAD “BACK SOFTBALL” SUPPORTERS
The new “Back Softball” campaign to regain Olympic status for the sport was in good focus at the recent International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Guatemala.
Representatives of the International Softball Federation’s (ISF) Strategic Task Force (STF) that were in attendance included Donna de Varona and Dale McMann, the Task Force’s Co-Chairs, along with STF members Ms. Low Beng Choo (Malaysia), Mr. Carlos Lopez (Puerto Rico), and Ms. Michele Smith (USA). Smith is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, while Low and Lopez are presidents of their respective national softball federations.
Former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch was in attendance at the IOC Session as Honorary Life President. He serves as Honorary Chair of the Task Force, which has other advisory members and supporters.
ISF President Don Porter and Director General Ms. Tamara Malikoff also were in Guatemala. New Strategic Task Force members were announced, including five-time Olympian Ms. Charmaine Crooks and Mr. Charles Battle, Managing Director of International Relations for the Atlanta Organizing Committee for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
The ISF had formally announced its “Back Softball” campaign at a June 27 press conference in Enschede, Netherlands, during the VIII Jr. Women’s World Championship (19-and-under).
U.S. PRESIDENT SUPPORTS REINSTATEMENT
Strategic Task Force member Michele Smith was invited by U.S. President George W. Bush to the White House recently. The President asked Smith to serve as the Honorary Commissioner of a tee ball (young girls softball) game on the South Lawn that took place, coincidentally, on the same day as the ISF's press conference to announce the "Back Softball" campaign. She said the President told her he's "100 percent" behind the effort to reinstate softball.
U.S. President George W. Bush (white shirt) leans in to share a laugh with Michele Smith while watching the tee ball game.
Bush's father, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the first game of the 2004 Olympic Softball competition in Athens. The former Olympian Smith now does television commentary on numerous softball broadcasts.
CZECH REPUBLIC WINS
The VIII European Men’s Softball Championship was won by the Czech Republic recently. The six-day event wrapped up this past Saturday in Belgium with the Czech team defeating Denmark, 2-0. The highest placing European team at the last ISF Men’s World Championship (2004), the Czech team lost just once in their nine games at the European event, which is played every other year. This year’s other participants included (in order of finish) the Netherlands, the host team, Slovakia, Croatia, and Israel. Because of their withdrawal Great Britain was listed as the eighth place finisher.
The Czech Republic, Denmark, and the Netherlands have all now qualified for the ISF’s XII Men’s World Championship (2009 in Canada).
PAN AMERICAN GAMES SOFTBALL NEARS
The Opening Ceremonies of the XV Pan American Games will be held tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro. The multisport event will feature women’s (fast pitch) softball from July 23-28. The participants will be: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, USA, and Venezuela. Find more information on the event website, at http://www.cob.org.br/pan2007/ingles/indexing.asp. The Pan American Games, where softball has been played since 1979, are one of at least 15 different multisport games that softball is on the programme of.