By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 11, 2010; B03
Kei Koizumi faces plenty of hurdles at the office, dealing with budgetary and policy issues in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. And last week, he won a gold medal for clearing some others -- literally.
Koizumi, 41, won the 110-meter hurdles Thursday at the eighth international Gay Games, held in Cologne, Germany. He completed the race in 23.25 seconds, placing first in the 40-44 age group.
About 9,500 athletes from 65 countries competed in the games, first held in 1982 in San Francisco. Athletes compete in various age groups in most of the traditional Summer Olympic sports as well as golf and figure skating. Cleveland is set to host the 2014 games, but tensions reportedly have arisen between the Federation of Gay Games and the Cleveland organizers over funding concerns. The Washington Blade, a gay news outlet, has even speculated that the games might go to the runner-up host city, Washington.
Koizumi joined the Office of Science and Technology Policy last year from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and spends his days focused on budget and appropriations issues related to NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation and the Energy Department. In his downtime, he swims and runs but rarely practices for hurdles, he said.
"I didn't think I was hooked on it, but I'd done the hurdles at a different distance at the last games and thought I'd try this sprint distance in Cologne," Koizumi said in an interview.
"I tried it, and hey, I was pretty good at it," he said with a laugh.
Koizumi's husband, Commerce Department employee Jeff Dutton, earned silver at the games in his first marathon.
OSTP spokesman Rick Weiss said colleagues already considered Koizumi "a world-class hurdler" for regularly clearing bureaucratic barriers.
"We at OSTP expect such nimbleness but do not generally give out medals for it," Weiss said. "It's nice to see Kei so aptly rewarded."
Koizumi brought his medal to work Monday, the same day President Obama feted the Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints, but declined to wear it around the office.
No word yet if the athletic first couple plan to acknowledge Koizumi's win.
In the meantime, the Ohio native said he'll stay focused on budget issues and training for the 2014 games.