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Coming in 2012 - the Summer Olympics?

Washington area makes its pitch to host the Olympic Games

Olympic basketball at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax. An Olympic aquatic center in Arlington. Olympic rowing at the Beaverdam Reservoir in Eastern Loudoun County.

These are just three potential venues should the Washington, D.C. area secure the bid to become the host city for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, said Daniel Knise, chairman of the Washington 2012 Olympics Committee. Knise spoke at the joint luncheon hosted by the Committee for Dulles and the Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce April 18 at the Days Hotel & Conference Center in Herndon.

“We support rail to Dulles," said Knise. "It’s an interesting proposal. We need that mass transit. Infrastructure is important." The Baltimore-Washington metropolitan areas are competing with New York City, San Francisco and Houston to be the United States representative in the global bidding to host the 2012 Summer Games. Sympathy due to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington are said to be one reason the decision will come down to New York or Washington.

While there may be sympathy for those two areas, Knise said that they are also better equipped to handle the Games, particularly Washington. Especially with the expansion of Metro, he said.

“Salt Lake City received $1 billion of transit money they may not have gotten,” Knise said of the host of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. “There will be more parking at Metro. You will not be driving to the Olympics of 2012. L.A. still talks about the ’84 Olympics. People say that was the easiest commute, when the Olympics were in town — all the cars were off the roads."

“Our area is identified as a capital city — that’s good," said Knise. "But this is a great opportunity to brand ourselves a high tech, science region. There will be six Olympic sports within a five-minute walk of the 87-acre site at RFK [Robert F. Kennedy Stadium] — an underutilized treasure. RFK will be replaced with a new stadium."

Knise added that a 45,000-seat soccer and track stadium would be built and that other venues for the Games would be “left behind for the community.”

Knise also spoke of the infusion of potential revenue for the area, referring to “a $5.3 billion reward.” The approximately 100,000 hotel rooms in the Washington area would be at capacity, said Knise, adding that hotels from Richmond to Philadelphia would expect to benefit from the Games as well.

"THE D.C. AREA is in the running for the Olympics of 2012 demonstrating that this is a great place to live, work and play,” said Hyatt Dulles general manager James “Jim” Deuel, also chairman of the Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce. “It’s important to support the efforts."

The Olympic committee is due to return to the area June 28 and 29. "This is a regional effort. We need volunteers,” Knise said, mentioning the website, www.dc2012.org.

Phyllis Howard, president of the U.S. Figure Skating Association said it is important for the region to have a successful event in March 2003, when the Patriot Center will host the World Figure Skating Championships. “We won that bid over five other cities,” said Howard. “There will be a $30 million impact on this region, but we need volunteers and participation by business. It’s good training for 2012."

CHANTILLY High School and George Mason University graduate Michael Kohn, 29, brought home a bronze medal home from the Salt Lake City Games as a member of the U.S. men’s bobsled team.

“Salt Lake was a very rewarding experience," said Kohn. "We were happy to have two teams in the medals." His team missed the silver medal “by five 100ths of a second — the width of a finger."

"The last American bobsled team to medal was a bronze in 1956 in Cortina, Italy," Kohn said. "For us to finally get a medal — unbelievable." Kohn will likely be one of the leading contenders when the Olympics return to Italy in 2006.

Kohn’s story was not one of immediate success. Recruited out of high school at a track meet by Mark Bendorf, the head football coach at Robinson High School, Kohn had played football for Bendorf at Chantilly.

"I thought I would give it a try,” said Kohn, who also ran track in school. He said both sports are good prerequisites for bobsled. “A bobsled weighs over 500 pounds, is pushed 50 meters in about five seconds or less." Once moving, the bobsled can reach speeds as high as between 85 and 94 miles per hour.

“I went to Lake Placid on my own," said Kohn, who earned a BS in exercise science in 1997 from George Mason. "I had no money. I was doing it on my own. It was a struggle. Adversity makes victory more special."

Kohn is an infantry specialist in the U.S. Army having enlisted in 1999. “The U.S. Army is very supportive,” he said, who is also a member of the Army World Class Athlete Program.

PRIOR TO the U.S. Army, Kohn held jobs ranging from a personal trainer, to working in a furniture warehouse to parking cars at Westfields. “If you can think of the job, I’ve probably done it — all to keep the dream alive," he said. "That makes this sweeter,"

Kohn tried to make the U.S. Olympic Team in 1992, but facing competition from the likes of professional football players Herschel Walker and Willie Gault as well as track and field Olympian Edwin Moses, Kohn did not succeed. In 1994, when the Winter Olympics were moved up two years, Kohn was attending college. He tried out unsuccessfully again in 1998, then joined the Army in 1999 before securing a place on the U.S. bobsled team this year in Salt Lake City.

“Participating in the Olympics after Sept. 11 mattered less," Kohn said. "I felt I could better serve on the battlefield or in a tank. But by February, it mattered. We were as happy winning the bronze as Sarah Hughes was winning the gold. Went from 29th place to fifth place."

Kohn told the audience at the Dulles luncheon that it meant more that the 2002 Winter Olympics took place in the U.S. "Being at home mattered, especially with all those American flags waving," he said. "American athletes are very protective of the flag. Other countries are not as respectful of their own flag. I hope 2012 happens for us — for this region."