Former U high jumper going to Games

Matthew Cross

Coralea Brown-Cline dreamed of going to the Olympics for her native Canada throughout her childhood. But after a number of setbacks, the former Gophers standout in the high jump stored her ambitions until earlier this year.
Brown-Cline has competed only once since the 1994 Big Ten Outdoor Championships where she took a mediocre seventh place. Consequently, her place on Canada’s team was in serious jeopardy.
In her time away from competitions, she has gotten married to former Gophers long jumper Keita Cline and given birth to their 15-month-old son Jayden. At the same time, she trained for a chance to compete again.
Coralea received British Virgin Islands citizenship through her marriage to Keita, who has citizenship through his father.
On June 29, she made the first and only visit of her life to the British Virgin Islands for a national meet catered to potential Olympic qualifiers, which was her first in over two years. Her hope was to make the British Virgin Islands Olympic team jumping on an uneven, grass surface full of divots. She won the competition but failed to meet the Olympic standard of 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches.
With her jump, however, the native of Ardrossan, Alberta made the British Virgin Islands Olympic track team.
How can that be possible? The answer is almost as complex as the feat itself.
Canada’s team and the British Virgin Islands’ squad have different travel schedules and practice sites, so the Clines thought it would be better if they could be on the same team.
Because Keita is one of the top competitors for the British Virgin Islands, the president of the country’s Olympic committee, Reynold O’Neal, gave special consideration for Coralea.
O’Neal announced earlier this year that Coralea could compete for the British Virgin Islands’ national team — even before she ever set foot on the islands and before she had competed since the 1994 Big Tens.
O’Neal knew that Coralea’s best jump was a 6-2 1/2, but he was also aware that she hadn’t competed for two years. Still, O’Neal exercised what is each country’s right to send one male and/or one female athlete to the Olympics who has not met the Games’ standard.
The opportunity to help Keita succeed in international competition was a chance he opted to take and to which he would rather not admit. O’Neal stumbled when asked if Coralea was there merely to help her husband.
“Keita is the best athlete we have,” O’Neal said. “If this could help his mental state … well, if it does, so much the better. We’re not trying to pull the cat out of the bag here. This kind of thing actually happens quite often.”
And the result is an athlete’s chance to be in the Olympics for a country with which she has virtually no ties and for which she has no patriotism. Still, she is happy for the chance to be in Atlanta.
“It’s a different kind of excitement,” she said. “I love Canada, but I haven’t competed for them in a long time, and I would rather be traveling with Keita. I don’t feel bad about it.”
But should she?
O’Neal said Coralea’s berth to the Olympics is not simply a moonlight job, but rather the first of many competitions. He said the Olympics just happen to be the first real competitive setting for Coralea.
“We don’t want this to be a situation where she goes to the Olympics and that’s it,” O’Neal said. “If she sticks to it and gets back to where she used to be, she should compete in our regional meets.”
Coralea was scheduled to compete two times before the Olympics in a British Virgin Islands uniform but irritated some cartilage in her ribs and sat out.
On Sunday, she traveled to her Canada home to drop off her son with her parents. From there she is going to Atlanta.

U names men’s assistanttennis coach
Tennis professional P.J. Priest was named assistant coach for the Gophers men’s tennis team late last week.
The former pro instructor with the Interlachen and Wayzata Country Clubs replaces Roger Anderson, who is leaving the University this fall to attend medical school at Tulane University.
Priest, who has coached at the high school level, was the Division III singles and doubles champion in 1990 and 1991 with Luther College.

KSTP picks Gophershockey announcer
KSTP-AM 1500 announced last Friday that Dan Terhaar will replace Al Shaver, who retired after Minnesota’s 1995-96 season as the Gophers hockey play-by-play personality.
Terhaar, 34, has more than 14 years of radio experience including three years with the University of North Dakota hockey club.
The graduate of the Brown Institute of Broadcasting in Minneapolis will do his first Gophers hockey broadcast on Oct. 12 at the Target Center when Minnesota faces off against Boston University in the Hall of Fame game.