Mark Starr

Stories by Mark Starr

  • Olympic Preview: Track and Field

    There are only two things in Beijing bigger than 7-foot-6 hoops star Yao Ming: the Great Wall—and hurdler Liu Xiang. Liu's victory in the 110-meter hurdles in Athens was arguably the most surprising of China's 32 gold medals there, and unquestionably the most celebrated back home. No Chinese man had ever before won Olympic gold in track and field, and his triumph turned him into a folk hero, not to mention a pop icon. Liu's face is splashed across billboards and milk cartons, turning him into a one-man metaphor for China's emerging athletic and economic supremacy. The nation is poised for a coronation—make that a deification—on Aug. 21 if Liu can repeat his triumph. But there are some unexpected hurdles in his path. For one, Liu has to prove he's recovered from a hamstring injury that forced him out of a race in June. The bigger worry is Dayron Robles, a 21-year-old Cuban who has blossomed this year and broke Liu's world record. Now a nation frets that Aug. 21 could instead be a day...
  • Summer Olympics Preview: Dara Torres

    The Summer of 1984, Los Angeles: A year before Michael Phelps was even born, hometown girl Dara Torres, just 17, won an Olympic gold medal in the 4x100 meter freestyle relay. Three golds, one silver and four bronzes later, Torres, now 41, will become the first U.S. swimmer to compete in five Olympics. Consider: the last time she reached the Games—Sydney in 2000—she was already the team's oldest swimmer. In Beijing, where Torres will race the 50-meter freestyle and two relays, the second oldest swimmer on the team will be 26-year-old Amanda Beard. The saga of Torres, our ageless wonder, has become a fan favorite.But while everyone is impressed, not everyone is convinced. Some journalists have wondered aloud if this fairy tale is exactly that. They can't comprehend how Torres could swim the fastest 100 meters of her life—at her advanced age, after a lengthy retirement, and just two years after giving birth—without doping. Torres says she is clean, noting that she has volunteered for a...
  • Gymnastics: A U.S.-China Olympic Face-Off

    China's girls on bars and beams are adorable. Ours are, too. More important, though, the Chinese and U.S. women's gymnastics teams are the best in the world, making this the one sport in which the two Olympic powers can really go to the mats. The American squad might be even more accomplished than the gold-winning "Magnificent Seven" from Atlanta in 1996. Its four leading lights—Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Chellsie Memmel and Alicia Sacramone—have combined to win 25 medals in world competition. Last year the U.S. girls wrested the team title from China by less than a point (0.95). It was a reversal of the previous year, when China bested the United States by an even slimmer margin. The team final is Aug. 13, and a single misstep could be fatal.Expect some fireworks on the men's side, too, with Paul Hamm returning to competition after a three-year hiatus. Hamm, the men's gold-medal winner in Athens, will have to shed the rust and rebound from a broken hand at the same time. His No....
  • Tyson Gay vs. Usain Bolt in Olympic 100 Meters

    No Olympic sport has had more star reputations ruined by doping than track and field. Sure, cycling, swimming and weightlifting have all taken big lumps. But so many heroic runners have turned into goats—Ben Johnson, Tim Montgomery, Justin Gatlin, Marion Jones—that we don't feel the same excitement about the new kids on the blocks.Long before doping tainted the sport, though, Olympic immortals like Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph wove the sprints into the American sporting fabric, and the titles of "world's fastest man" and "world's fastest woman" still have special resonance. Even now it's hard not to feel a thrill when the runners toe the line for the 100-meter dash.In Beijing, the men's showdown will be among the most anticipated in these Games. American Tyson Gay figured to be the favorite after sweeping the 100-200 double at last year's world championships. Then came a bolt of lightning—21-year-old Jamaican Usain Bolt, who exploded past Gay en route to a world-record time of 9.72...
  • Starr: Keep Marion Jones in Prison

    The president should not commute the disgraced Olympian's sentence. Her precipitous fall sends a chilling—and essential—message to our athletes.
  • Tiger vs. Phil, and the Power of Rivalry

    Tiger is paired with Phil—though we all know he stands alone. But a new HBO documentary reminds us that nothing invigorates the game like rivalry.
  • Looking for a Hero

    Big football tournaments often seem to end in failure. Will this year's Euro Cup be any different?
  • Starr: Blame Stern for Mayo Mess

    You can't blame the NBA if former USC basketball star O. J. Mayo proves to be a bad apple. But the league does bear some responsibility for the scandal surrounding him.
  • Starr: Forgiving Bill Buckner

    The 'goat' of the 1986 World Series returns to Fenway Park for a long, overdue reconciliation with Boston fans.
  • Starr: Unmoved by the Sox in Tokyo

    Baseball kicked off its season in Japan, and this Red Sox fan found himself surprisingly blasé about the whole affair.
  • Glimpses of a Golden Age

    While Major League Baseball opens its season Tuesday showcasing its future—the Oakland A's face the champion Boston Red Sox in Tokyo—former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent has kept a keen eye on the game's past. His second volume of oral histories, "We Would Have Played for Nothing," featuring stars of the '50s and '60s, hits stores next week. He talked with NEWSWEEK's Mark Starr. ...
  • Starr: Remembering Brett Favre

    It's hard to rejoice when a singular fan favorite decides to hang 'em up. But it's time for Favre to go, and I'm thrilled he knew it.
  • Starr: Free Speech, Beijing and Darfur

    I believe in free speech. Which doesn't mean I want to see athletes making political statements from the medal podiums in Beijing.
  • Starr: Patriots Own the 4th Quarter

    Last year the Pats faltered down the stretch against Indy. This season they have owned the fourth quarter against everybody.
  • Starr: Me and the Rise of Eli Manning

    Last month I trashed the Giants' quarterback. Now he's poised to ruin my hometown Patriots' dream season. Might I be responsible for this?