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Kingdom, McConnell-Serio would welcome challenge of bringing Olympics to Pittsburgh

Gold medalists and former Pitt and Penn State stars Roger Kingdom and Suzie McConnell-Serio, who competed in Olympics on three continents, agree bringing the Games to Pittsburgh would be a massive challenge. But they said they would be willing to help with the heavy lifting.

“I don’t think there is anything like being involved in the Olympics,” said McConnell, who won a gold medal in women’s basketball in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988, and a bronze in Barcelona, Spain, in 1992. “Absolutely, I would like to be a part of it.”

Pittsburgh’s Luke Ravenstahl is one of 35 mayors who received a letter from the U.S. Olympic Committee, gauging the city’s interest in making a bid for the 2024 Olympics.

Kingdom, a two-time winner in the hurdles in Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul, said the idea intrigues him.

“Quite frankly, we have a lot of amenities to offer,” he said. “As far as the beauty of our city, out of all the cities I’ve been around, we can match anybody,” he said. “Coming through the tunnel, man, to see that …”

They agree, however, that Pittsburgh’s size would be a major obstacle.

“From a sheer standpoint of not being able to host a lot of activities, Pittsburgh is not large enough,” said Kingdom, a former Pitt track athlete and football player who is now the director of track and field and cross country at California (Pa.) University.

“My big question is: Is Pittsburgh big enough to host something like that?” said McConnell-Serio, the women’s coach at Duquesne University. “It would be a great challenge, being that they have to create an Olympic village for the athletes. I think it would be a great challenge with everything that it entails, but also an incredible opportunity to be able to showcase Pittsburgh to the world.”

Kingdom, who is a former member of Pittsburgh Marathon board of directors and part of the site committee for the 2000 Olympic Marathon Trials, said the proposed $3 billion budget is daunting, but not impossible to overcome.

“When I look at the budget, I know we have our issues here in the city, but think about it: How much revenue are we going to bring in? You mean to tell me if we seriously started to put together a bid, those (area) corporations wouldn’t take part? I think they would.”

McConnell-Serio, who went to Seton-La Salle High School, said the Olympics requires thousands of volunteers, something that shouldn’t be an impediment in Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh people are amazing,” he said. “I think they would be willing to help if it was something we committed to. That’s the type of mentality people in this city have. They would welcome the challenge.”

 

 

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