ESPN commentator Axthelm dies at 47Pete Axthelm,...


ESPN commentator Axthelm dies at 47

Pete Axthelm, a commentator on ESPN's National Football League coverage and a newspaper and broadcast reporter on football and horse racing, died yesterday at a Pittsburgh hospital of liver failure. He was 47.

Axthelm entered Presbyterian-University Hospital on Jan. 27 and was in the hospital's intensive-care unit awaiting a liver transplant, hospital spokesman Frank Raczkiewicz said.

"We will miss his insightful commentary, incisive reporting and unique literary flavor," ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said. "We will especially miss his warm friendship."

Axthelm, who joined ESPN in 1987, provided commentary and picks on NFL games on the network's "NFL GameDay" and "NFL PrimeTime." He also covered horse racing.

L He was part of NBC's NFL coverage team from 1980 until 1985.

Axthelm, a 1965 graduate of Yale University, joined the New York Herald Tribune as a horse racing writer and sports columnist. He worked at Newsweek magazine from 1968 until 1988 and at People magazine from 1988 until 1989. Englishman Derek Warwick survived a spin and kept the defending champion Jaguar XJR-12 prototype in the lead after six hours of the Daytona 24 Hours sports car race. Warwick spun the car near the end of the sixth hour as he successfully avoided hitting a car in the chicane that slows the field at the end of the long back straightaway at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

5) The race will end at 3:30 p.m. today.


Martina Navratilova defeated Laura Gildemeister of Peru, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), and moved into the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo against Gabriela Sabatini, who beat Mary Joe Fernandez, 6-3, 6-4.

* Andrea Strnadova of Czechoslovakia defeated Cristina Tessi of Argentina, 6-0, 6-4, to move into the final of the Nutri-Metics Classics in Auckland, New Zealand. Strnadova's opponent in the final will be fellow Czech Eva Sviglerova, who beat second-seeded Argentine Mercedes Paz, 6-2, 6-3, in the other semifinal.

* Ken Flach broke Leif Shiras' service twice in the second set and went on to a 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 victory in a semifinal in the Humana Hospital-Abilene pro indoor invitational at Fairway Oaks Country Club in Abilene, Texas.

Flach will play for the championship today against Steve Bryan, a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victor over Flach's younger brother, Doug, in the other semifinal.


Pernilla Wiberg of Sweden became the first Scandinavian woman to win an alpine title at the World Championships in 33 years today by edging Ulrike Maier to capture the giant slalom in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria. The United States got its best showing of the championships when Eva Twardokens of Santa Cruz, Calif., finished fifth behind Traudl Haecher of Germany and Yugoslavian Veronika Sarec.


The 86-member U.S. Olympic Committee board of directors in Dallas passed legislation that would permit USOC president Robert Helmick to seek another four-year term.

Helmick, who took office after the death of Jack Kelly in 1985, was elected to a four-year term in 1989.

"The unanimous vote shows that the organization recognizes the importance of having continuity," Helmick said. "It only means I'm not disqualified for running again. I assure you a lot of things can happen before then. I would expect there to be other candidates."

The new rule reads that "a person may not serve as president for more than two full terms successively."

The old rule read "a person shall be ineligible for nomination and re-election as president after completion of two successive terms in office."


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