Sixty Gallaudet College students and alumni will compete in the XV World Games for the Deaf in Los Angeles July 10-20.
The World Games traditionally are held a year after the Olympics. Participants retain amateur status and subscribe to International Olympic Committee rules. This year's Games will be boycotted by several Iron Curtain nations, including the Soviet Union.
The United States is entering a record 220 athletes to the Games in which 27 countries will be represented. More than 2,000 competitors in 13 sports are expected. Washington, D.C., was the host when the United States was last the site for the Games, in 1965.
Among Gallaudet's entries are several probable medal winners.
Jay Conley, the discus world record holder and Betsy Bachtel, who competes in the 1,500 and 2,000-meters, have an opportunity to do well. So does the men's volleyball team (five from Gallaudet) and the women's basketball team (seven and four alternates from Gallaudet).
"The two teams have always been in title competition," said U.S. Committee member Donald Ammons through an interpreter. "They have been in training for years and a lot of emphasis has been placed on these sports."
Two Maryland residents, LeRoy Dickerson of Baltimore and Tiffany Williams of Gaithersburg, are medal contenders. Dickerson is the defending decathlon champion and Williams is ranked No. 2 among U.S. heptathletes.
The track competition will not be as strong as anticipated because of the boycott.
"We received a cable in March stating that teams would not be sent due to lack of funds," said Jerald Jordan, president of CISS (Comite International des Sports des Sourds or International Committee on Silent Sports). "We had to eliminate some of the track events and the entire wrestling competition because there weren't enough entries."
The wrestling cancellation prevented eight Gallaudet athletes from competing. Instead, they will compete in an international meet in Mexico City.
"I was in Europe when I heard that the teams weren't coming and I was physically ill for two days," said Ammons. "The first thing I thought about was the numbers of hours the athletes had already put in and all of the hard work the coach (Mark Faller) had put in. We were very successful in Germany in 1981 (15 wrestling medals). I feel frightened for the future of our wrestling program without role models from international competition."
In the Cologne, West Germany Games in l981, Gallaudet students won 14 gold, 12 silver and six bronze medals.
Four Gallaudet coaches are members of the U.S. coaching staff. Thomas Berg is a track coach, Kathryn Baldridge, a basketball coach, and Marty Minter and Stephen Wold are soccer coaches. Head coaches from the area are Al Couthen (table tennis) and Hubert Anderson Jr. (basketball). Jack Griffin of Frederick, who has coached U.S. teams in three hearing Olympics, Charlie Day (Maryland School for the Deaf) and Joseph David (University of Maryland) are assistant track coaches. Peg Worthington (MSSD), volleyball; James Shartner (MSSD), wrestling; and Nicholas Creekmore (soccer) are also assistants. The U.S. team recently arrived at the U.S. Olympic camp in Colorado Springs for three weeks of training before the Games.