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BERMUDA GUY FOSTERING NEW LUGE ATTITUDE.

Byline: STEVE DILBECK

PARK CITY, Utah - Formulate a perfect mental picture of the prototypical luge slider, and toss it.

Now try this one: Comes from a lightly populated tropical island. Is a professional journalist. Currently employed by the mayor of New York.

And, oh yeah, he's the guy who carried the flag of his country into the opening ceremony of the Winter Games on Friday ... wearing Bermuda shorts. In 20-degree weather.

Meet Patrick Singleton, plucky international man of mystery. Reared in Bermuda, attended high school in Scotland, went to college in North Carolina, lives in Tokyo and just spent 2 1/2 months of rehab in Australia.

Otherwise, he's just another death-defying luge kind of guy. As you might imagine, he's not the best in the world. But then, neither is he the worst.

On Monday he finished the men's singles run at Olympic Park 37th out of 48 competitors. First in fashion sense, last in common sense, 37th at Salt Lake City.

``Obviously it wasn't my Olympics and I'll have to live with that,'' Singleton said.

Maybe his legs had yet to defrost from the opening ceremony when he crashed Sunday in the preliminaries. Maybe he would have performed better wearing a snazzy tropical shirt and sandals.

You have to wonder about a guy's training when he comes from an island without mountains, lakes or rivers.

But Singleton is a member of a highly athletic family. His father, Derek, was a tennis pro in Bermuda who competed internationally for Northern Ireland in tennis, badminton and fencing, and later for Bermuda in rugby and tennis.

His mother, Sallie, danced for the Royal Ballet in London. His brother, Colm, is a Rhodes Scholar. His uncle, John McDowell, represented Ireland in the bobsled. His cousin, Jacques Branch, represented Canada in the javelin, and his great uncle, C.G. MacCartney, was a captain of the Australian cricket team.

Almost everything but a guy with a sled.

``He's a beautiful tennis player,'' Derek Singleton said. ``I gave him all the fundamentals and saw he wasn't interested. And the next thing I see, he's on the damn luge track.''

Patrick Singleton's grandmother is to blame. Originally from Scotland, she built him a road luge when he was 6. One of those jobs where the sled has wheels. Seems he was hooked. He kept at it while in Scotland and later back in Bermuda with a team with an international association.

``We had a Bermudan in the early '90s who was in the top 10 in the world, so it doesn't really matter that you come from a hot country,'' he said.

Singleton has been competing in the luge internationally since '96. At Nagano four years ago, he finished 27th.

Currently he is a reporter/producer in Tokyo for Bloomberg Television, which just happens to be owned by Michael Bloomberg, New York's new mayor. Singleton talked to Bloomberg, who let him have nine months off to train for Salt Lake City. Singleton, in tight with the mayor of NYC.

``I don't if know I'm in tight, but Mike Bloomberg has been really kind in letting me train for these games,'' he said.

Singleton trains with an international club team, which includes India's Shiva Keshavan, also the only Winter Games representative from his country. Of course, there are more than 1 billion people in India (and zero ski lifts) and just over 62,000 in Bermuda.

``There are no ski resorts, but you have some really good slopes,'' said Keshavan, who learned to ski on the Himalayas. ``You usually have a nice hike up, bring your lunch, and come down.''

Coaches aren't allowed in the Athletes Village, so Singleton and Keshavan have been helping each other, polishing their blades, preparing for their event, talking fashion.

``We share the same problems, so we try to help each other,'' Keshavan said.

Like Singleton, Keshavan carried his country's flag Friday. He, however, went for the more traditional garb. Also warmer.

Bermudas being the national clothes of his country, Singleton felt it was the proper way to represent Bermuda.

``It wasn't cold because I only wore them for five minutes,'' he said. ``I did a few exercises beforehand, slipped off my ski clothes and gave them to my coach and team manager. If you looked behind me, they looked like gorillas they were padded so much. They had my clothes inside their jackets. As soon as I sat down, I put them back on.''

Singleton is 27 and uncertain if he'll be back to try the Olympics again in four years.

``I'm getting a little old now,'' he said. ``Bones are taking a bit of a beating.''

One thing he has figured, getting interviewed beats trying to track down a Sony executive about a stock dive.

``I prefer to be on this side.''

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Photo:

Patrick Singleton, who was reared in Bermuda, finished the luge men's singles run 37th out of 48 competitors.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Feb 12, 2002
Words:829
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