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September 11, 2000
A family affair for manyWinsor Dobbin
The Sydney Olympics are a real family affair.
From the Williams sisters to the extended Clark family, siblings, husbands and wives will be going for gold when the Games action starts on Saturday.
Almost unanimously, they agree that having loved ones competing at the same Games eases the pressure.
No fewer than four members of the Clark family are involved in the American track and field team. Sisters Joetta and Hazel Clark, both trained by their brother J.J. Clark, will contest the women's 800 metres along with their sister-in-law Jearl Miles-Clark, who is married to J.J.
Joetta Clark is a four-time Olympian, while Miles-Clark is a two-time world champion over 400 metres.
"I used to feel a lot of pressure to live up to Joetta and Jearl, but now I see it as a positive thing," said Hazel. "They give me so much confidence and now I know I can get where they are."
Marion Jones, who is going for a record five track and field gold medals, is coached by her husband C.J. Hunter, who is also a world-class shot putter.
Hunter, who will miss the Games with a knee injury, won the world title last year in Seville, Spain, where Jones won the 100 metres before herself being injured.
Among the biggest stars of the Games will be American tennis sisters, Venus and Serena Williams.
Venus comes into the Games on a high after winning the U.S. Open women's singles title on Saturday -- a title her younger sister took 12 months earlier.
The two sisters always watch each other play and practice together whenever possible. Only Venus will play the singles in Sydney, but the sisters will combine for the women's doubles.
The South African baseball team includes three brothers -- Brian, Richard and Tim Harrell, all of whom are aiming for professional careers in the United States.
In the synchronised swimming duet competition, no fewer than four of the competing teams will comprise siblings: the Abdel Gawads from Egypt, the Moraes twins from Brazil, the Allarova twins from Slovakia and the Leal Ramirez sisters from Mexico.
American equestrians David and Karen O'Connor, a husband and wife combination, are competing at the Games for the second time.
"It is a matter of competing together, rather than against each other," said David. "We benefit from knowing what each other is going through."
Australian husband and wife Andrew and Louise Currey also have the advantage of training for their event together. Both are world-class javelin throwers.
Louise, struggling to overcome an injury to throw in Sydney, was a silver medallist in Atlanta four years ago under her maiden name of McPaul, while Andrew is a potential finalist. He says his wife is the person he admires most in the world "because she has won an Olympic medal."
The 1991 world champion, Simon Fairweather, is going for gold in the men's individual and team archery, while his younger sister Kate wants a medal in the women's event.
"My family made me choose the sport," she admits. "But it really brought us back together. Prior to that, we didn't understand each others' experiences but now we can interact and understand exactly what each other is going through."
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