'Maryland's Olympic team' grows

The Baltimore Sun

A funny thing happened on the way to the parade.

Earlier this week, when Gov. Martin O'Malley and other officials announced plans to hold a parade and a fireworks show Oct. 4 in honor of what they called "Maryland's Olympic team," 11 athletes were listed as being invited - including, of course, Michael Phelps and fellow swimmer Katie Hoff.

But a list of Olympic athletes with Maryland ties that was published in The Baltimore Sun on Aug. 24 showed an additional eight competitors whose names did not appear on the governor's list for the Oct. 4 festivities.

Oops.

"I don't want you to think that we haven't done our homework," Hannah Byron, assistant secretary for the state Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, said after being alerted to the extra names. She explained that her office, which is coordinating the Oct. 4 events along with Baltimore City and County officials, had received from the U.S. Olympic Committee a list of athletes who "claimed an affiliation with Maryland."

The confusion could have arisen, she said, because some competitors who might be native Marylanders no longer live in the state and others who are originally from somewhere else simply attend college here.

Still, Byron said, the new names have been added to the master list, and all - including four competitors in the XIII Summer Paralympics, which conclude next week - will be sent an invitation.

"I just got mine this morning," Jamie Schroeder, who competed in the quadruple sculls at both the Athens and Beijing Games and whose name was not on the original list, said yesterday from his office in Bethesda. He said the e-mailed invitation consisted of a scanned letter from O'Malley's office.

As he was speaking, Schroeder checked his calendar and decided that he would attend the events on Oct. 4, a week before he plans to wed Baltimore native Kelsey Twist.

Schroeder was unruffled about initially not being included.

"I've been claimed by a lot of municipalities," said Schroeder, 26, who was born in St. Louis, grew up in Wilmette, Ill., attended Stanford University in California, lived in Arlington, Va., and bought a house this year in Baltimore's Oakenshawe neighborhood with his fiancee. "I feel like I've had a very warm reception in Maryland, including in my new home, Baltimore."

In addition to Phelps and Hoff, the athletes included in the first round of invitations were Freddy Adu, who plays soccer; Carmelo Anthony, basketball; David Banks, rowing; Maurice Edu, soccer; Gao Jun, table tennis; Khankham Malaythong, badminton; Scott Parsons, canoe and kayak; Gary Russell Jr., boxing; and Chris Seitz, soccer.

Besides Schroeder's, the following names have been added: Natalie Woolfolk, weightlifting; Mechelle Lewis, track and field; Georgia Gould, mountain biking; Robbie Rogers, soccer; and Dina Rizzo, Keli Smith and Lauren Powley, all of whom play field hockey. A ninth name, that of cyclist Bobby Lea, appeared on neither The Sun's nor the state's list, and was included yesterday.

The four Paralympics competitors are Tatyana McFadden, wheelchair racing; Nate Klein, fencing; and Jessica Long and Phil Scholz, both swimmers.

"This list is a work in progress, and we are continuing to add folks as they become known to us," said Karen Glenn Hood, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, which is helping with the preparations.

Informed of the missing names on Wednesday, Donald I. Mohler III, who runs the Baltimore County government's communications office, said officials had not yet had a chance to confirm all the athletes' provenance but would "reach out to anyone who has Maryland ties and invite them" to the festivities.

"If there is a Maryland Olympian who does not get invited," Mohler said, "I encourage them to contact our office immediately so that we can rectify that."

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