World marathon record holder Ronaldo da Costa of Brazil said he still plans to compete in the Chicago Marathon Oct. 24 despite two recent kidnapping attempts.
Last month, da Costa said, would-be kidnappers unsuccessfully attempted to abduct him from his home in Brazil. He said kidnappers returned while he was at a race in Rio de Janiero two weeks ago. No arrests have been made.
In a teleconference yesterday from England, da Costa was reluctant to discuss details of the kidnapping attempts.
"I'm in good mental shape," he said through an interpreter, "but physically I'm in 90 percent of the shape I was in when I set the world record in Berlin."
Da Costa ran the '98 Berlin Marathon in 2 hours 6 minutes 5 seconds last September. He joins last year's champion, Ondoro Osoro of Kenya, and 1997 winner Khalid Khannouchi of Morocco, in the Chicago field.
Former Local Star Signs
Mondell Opoku, a former star defender at Lee High School, has signed with Swedish club Vasby IK of Stockholm and will join the First Division team in about six weeks. Opoku, 18, also had informal workouts with D.C. United and a Portuguese team.
Agassi Changes Mind
After vowing never to play in the Davis Cup again, world No. 1 Andre Agassi has changed his mind, saying he would represent the United States in its first-round match in February.
Agassi apparently had a change of heart after John McEnroe was appointed coach.
"I think he's going to be the best captain ever so far," Agassi said at the Swiss Indoors in Basel. "I think he'll help a lot." . . .
Serena Williams's winning streak ended at 16 matches when she was upset by France's Sandrine Testud after Williams led 5-1 in the third set at the $520,000 Porsche Grand Prix in Filderstadt, Germany.
Testud, the tournament's defending champion and ranked 13th in the world, charged back to deal Williams her first loss since the French Open in June, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
"Did she really lead 5-1? I didn't know that," Testud said. "I was just playing point by point. At 5-5, I thought, oh, maybe you can win."
In other matches, Martina Hingis, the world's top-ranked player, beat Jennifer Capriati, 6-4, 6-0. Hingis struggled in the first set but needed only 15 minutes to win the second and reach the quarterfinals.
France's Mary Pierce, seeded fourth, needed 2:25 to defeat Natasha Zvereva of Belarus, 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 6-4. Nathalie Dechy, also of France, beat Mary Joe Fernandez, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.
Lindsay Davenport also advanced, crushing Silvia Farina of Italy, 6-0, 6-1. . . .
Australian Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov kept alive his goal of ending the season as the world's top-ranked player with a solid 6-3, 7-5 victory over American Vincent Spadea in the opening round of the Swiss Indoors.
Darren Drozdov, a former University of Maryland football player and a World Wrestling Federation star, was paralyzed below the waist after fracturing his neck during a match at the Nassau Coliseum--the second professional wrestling tragedy in five months.
Drozdov, a tattooed, body-pierced wrestler known as "The Droz," underwent three hours of surgery to relieve pressure on his damaged neck.
Drozdov, 30, of Mays Landing, N.J., had two dislocated and fractured disks. He was signed by the New York Jets as a free agent in 1993, was claimed off waivers by the Denver Broncos that year and spent two seasons with them before going into wrestling.
Jeff Gordon signed a contract to stay with Hendrick Motorsports for the rest of his Winston Cup career. The deal also gives him an equal share of the ownership of his car with team founder Rick Hendrick and a more active management role.
"I always had hoped Jeff would race for me forever," Hendrick said at a news conference in suburban Charlotte. Hendrick said the contract, which takes effect Jan. 1, had been discussed for several months.
Meantime, Bobby Labonte completed a season sweep of Winston Cup poles at Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte, winning the top starting position for the UAW-GM Quality 500.
Labonte turned a fast lap of 185.682 mph in his Joe Gibbs-owned Pontiac to edge Rusty Wallace in first-round qualifying for Sunday's 500-mile event.
He became the first driver in the 40-year history of the track to win the pole for all three Winston Cup events in the same year. Labonte also started up front for the Winston all-star event and the Coca-Cola 600, both held in late May on the 1.5-mile, high-banked trioval.