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PUBLICATIONS Inside Illinois Vol. 21, No. 1, July 5, 2001

Ortiz brings home gold

Sharita Forrest, News Bureau Staff Writer
(217) 244-1072; slforres@illinois.edu

Photo by Bill Wiegand
Tony Ortiz

Before departing to play in the World Police and Fire Games in Indianapolis the week of June 8-16, Officer Tony Ortiz of the UI police department said a little prayer to the statue in Champaign’s West Side Park that honors police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

"I said, ‘This will be for you guys,’ " Ortiz recalled.

Ortiz lived up to the theme of this year’s games and became a "hero in the heartland," winning the gold medal in the men’s master’s division of handball, defeating the defending champion 15-9 and 15-4. Ortiz also went undefeated in his division during the five matches he played, prompting spectators to urge him to play an exhibition match against the champion of the men’s open division. Again, Ortiz trounced his opponent.

"That guy was 14 years younger than me," Ortiz said. "That made me feel really good."

Ortiz said his rigorous training, especially the boxing regimen he designed, gave him the endurance he needed to go the distance.

More than 9,000 police officers and firefighters from 57 countries came together in Indianapolis to compete in more than 70 Olympic-style sports and 350 events. Ortiz said that several companies have offered to sponsor him in the next biennial games, scheduled for 2003 in Barcelona, Spain.


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