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Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Oly athletes hooked on GameBoy freebie

 SYDNEY -- The athlete's village has been unusually quiet the first few days.

 What gives? Are the competitors so focused on their events, they're walking around like silent zombies?

 Nah. It's GameBoy.

 All of the athletes got one of the popular portable video game units as part of the pack-sacks of free stuff they receive from Olympic sponsors. It's been, by far, the hit of the village.

 "The other night, there were about nine of us sitting around in a circle playing it," laughed Canadian swimmer Kelly Stefanyshyn. "Nobody was talking, just concentrating on the game.

 "We got Super Mario with it, and everybody's stuck on different levels.

 "In fact, I think I'm going to stop playing for a while. It's getting a little too stressful."

 Not everybody's eyes are glued to the tiny game monitor.

 Winnipeg's Olympic softball sisters Sandy and Heather Newsham have taken to walks in the village just to check out who's checked in.

 "Because the Pan Ams were in my home town, I haven't experienced village life," said Sandy, "So it was kinda neat to see who's here.

 "We saw Nelson Mandela walk by us the other day in the village, plus a ton of sports stars.

 "It's just unbelievable, and I'm really hoping to meet Vince Carter."

 But the search for the Raptor still doesn't mean the Newshams haven't sat down for a few hours of fun with the GameBoy.

 "We met (fellow Winnipegger and Canadian basketballer) Todd MacCulloch for the first time the other day," added Heather. "And he is without a doubt the champion video game player.

 "We were playing Super Mario, and he was destroying all of us.

 "That boy's got game."