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Park plaques to spot sites where star athletes trained


New York Daily News, July 16, 2004

By Mark Fass



Day campers are inspired to try hurdle-jumping yesterday in Central Park after attending ceremony honoring Olympic and other athletes who trained in city parks. 


The Parks and Recreation Department honored a dozen New York-area athletes, including 10 Olympians, yesterday, unveiling plaques in their honor in Central Park.


The plaques were announced as part of Park Dreams, which honors Olympians and other great athletes who honed their skills in city parks. The plaques will be posted in areas where the athletes trained.


Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe introduced six honorees to the crowd, including cyclist Nelson Vails. A Harlem native, Vails rose from bicycle messenger to 1984 Olympic silver medalist by riding "hundreds of thousands of miles" around Central Park.


"Of 6 billion people in the world, only one person was faster than this guy," Benepe told the crowd.


"And not by much - by half a wheel," added Vails.


Vails' plaque will be posted on a lamppost near the Harlem Meer.




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