New Zealand's national Olympic committee defended its decision yesterday to send a boxer convicted of killing his infant daughter to the Athens Games.

Soulan Pownceby served four years in jail beginning in 1995 for the manslaughter of his 5-month-old child, after being found not guilty on a charge of murder. Since his release, he has had seven more convictions, most recently for an assault on a woman four years ago.

Women's groups and organizations campaigning against domestic violence have denounced the light heavyweight's selection as New Zealand's sole boxing representative in Athens.

Prime Minister Helen Clarke urged Pownceby to "make a total public declaration of what he's done and talk about a resolve to absolutely put it behind him." Clarke was responding to questions suggesting Pownceby's latest conviction was more recent than 2000.

Pownceby told a TV show yesterday he was sorry for his actions.

"I can only go forward, I can't change the past. . . . I wish I could," he said. "Now I'm just trying to be the very best person I can be."

New Zealand Olympic Committee Secretary-General Barry Maister said he thoroughly reviewed Pownceby's past before endorsing his nomination.

Maister said committee members interviewed Pownceby several times and spoke to police.

Belatedly, Hoffmann Gets Gold

Cross-country skier Christian Hoffmann of Austria was awarded a 2002 Olympic gold medal originally given to an athlete disqualified for using drugs.

Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel presented the medal to Hoffmann on Monday, 863 days after the 30K freestyle race in Salt Lake City. It was Austria's first Olympic gold medal in the event.

He got the gold after Johann Muehlegg, a German competing for Spain, was disqualified. Muehlegg had already won three gold medals when he tested positive for an endurance-enhancing drug.

Olympic authorities granted Hoffmann the gold medal in December 2003. The long delay resulted from the International Olympic Committee needing to check whether it could pass the medal to Hoffmann.

Webb Honored

Alan Webb (South Lakes High) was named USA Track & Field's athlete of the week after running the fastest time ever in the men's mile by an American on U.S. soil at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.

Webb's winning time of 3 minutes 50.85 seconds again took Jim Ryun off the record books and is the fastest time in the world this year. Ryun had held the U.S. all-comers record by an American for 37 years with his time of 3:51.1, on June 23, 1967, in Bakersfield, Calif.