STUDENT SPORT: Capel capable of triple firsts

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The Independent Online
JOHN CAPEL is the outstanding prospect in the powerful US team that is expected to dominate the World Student Games which open today in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The American delegation of 399 student athletes is bigger than that of hosts Spain and includes Capel, a sprinter, who could win three gold medals on the track.

The 20-year-old University of Florida student has startled athletics fans this year with a series of swift performances; over 200 metres he became the fastest American student ever when he ran 19.87sec to win the American collegiate (NCAA) title last month.

With the hot conditions in Mallorca conducive to fast times, he may even challenge the Games record of 19.79sec which was set by Italy's Petro Mennea in 1979, a year after Capel was born, at the high altitude of Mexico City.

Mennea's time stood as the world record until it was broken twice by Michael Johnson, himself a former Student Games champion, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Away from the track the US men's basketball team are the overwhelming favourites to lift their sixth straight Games crown, despite many of the men who will enter the NBA professional draft later in the year being unavailable.

The American women's team are also the defending Games champions. They include a reporters' nightmare pairing of Coco and Kelly Miller from Georgia University, identical twins who play in the same position as guards.

The US swimming squad will include Amanda Beard, part of the 4x100m medley relay gold medal-winning team at the 1996 Olympics, and Anita Nall - also an Olympian.

The host nation's big hope to win a gold medal resides with their football players who, after recent Spanish victories in the world Under-20 and European Under-16 tournaments, will be aiming to continue their winning form.