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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, June 8, 2000


Associated Press
Kelsey Nakanelua warms up at the Punahou track.
He may be headed to the Sydney Olympics
with the American Samoa team.

speeds toward
Sydney dream

Former Kamehameha
track star is close to making
the Olympics with the
American Samoa team

By Dave Reardon


Kelsey Nakanelua, crowned Hawaii's Fastest Human four times, is speeding toward his Olympic dream -- via Samoa.

After an impressive workout last week in Pago Pago, Nakanelua appears close to representing American Samoa at the Games this September in Sydney, Australia.

"He's right there. He's faster than our other runners by at least a second (in the 100 meters)," said Ken Tupua, the secretary general of the American Samoa Olympic team. "We've submitted his name to our athletics federation. As far as the American Samoa Olympic committee is concerned, we're just waiting for confirmation."

Tupua said he saw Nakanelua hand-timed consistently at under 10 seconds in the 100 meters, Friday in Samoa.

"He clocked very good," Tupua said.

Nakanelua said he ran 100 meters twice within 15 minutes. He said he was clocked under 9.9 by all four timers the first sprint, and was between 9.9 and 10.0 on all four watches the second time.

He ran by himself, without starting blocks.

The world record in the 100 meters is 9.79 by Maurice Greene, set in June, 1999.

Nakanelua, 33, ran his fastest electronically timed 100 in 1995, a 10.59. His fastest this year was 10.78 in San Diego.

"I also might be in the decathlon," he said. "I'd have a hard time in some events, but a good chance of contending in the 100 and 400 (in the decathlon)."

Nakanelua said his late grandfather was half-Samoan.

"We are very satisfied of his Samoan heritage," Tupua said. "I also think a lot of the fact that he really wanted something and went after it."

Nakanelua arranged the workout after visiting American Samoa last summer. He is an employee of DHL Worldwide Express, which sponsored his flights to Samoa and back.

"My bosses (Jeff Keville and Joe Curtis) said, 'Hey, why don't we see what you can do,' " Nakanelua said.

Nakanelua will compete in the Aloha State Games track and field meet Saturday at Kaiser, running in the 100 and 400 meters.

Nakanelua finished third in last spring's Hawaii's Fastest Human 100 meters behind first-place Hank Warrington and second-place Sean Butts.

Warrington holds the record for the fastest 100 meters in the state by a Hawaii resident. He ran an electronically timed 10.42 in 1999.

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