A lesson to all Olympic alternates out there: Leave your cell phone on when it's time for your race.
German speedskater Patrick Beckert missed out on a chance to compete in the Olympics because his cell phone was turned off prior to the start of Wednesday's 1,000m competition. Officials were trying to contact the 19-year old, who was the fourth alternate in the race.
The spot became free when two-time gold medalist Enrico Fabris of Italy withdrew from the race one hour before it was set to begin. Officials attempted to reach the first three alternates to no avail. Once the German delegation got word that Beckert was in if he could get to the Oval in time, a hasty search was put together. Calls were placed to his turned-off cell and his sister, Stephanie, a medal favorite in the 3,000m, also tried to find him. Beckert finally called back 17 minutes before the race, but it was too late to get to the Richmond Olympic Oval.
One German site says that Helge Jasch, manager of the German speed skating team, has taken blame for the mistake because he didn't tell Beckert to report to the oval. He figured that the chances of the fourth alternate making it into the field were infinitesmal. Ninety-nine times out of 100, he'd be right.
But slim is still better than none. The team should have had Beckert arrive at the Richmond Olympic Oval just in case. And he should have kept his phone on just in case. Now, every time he pulls his cell from his pocket he'll be reminded of the call he didn't get.
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