NEW YORK, Oct. 16. ROMAN Sloudnov, the only swimmer ever to break one minute for the 100-meter breaststroke, will be coming to New York after all, where he will compete in the Novo Nordisk Sprint Cup.
Soudnov, the "Russian Rocket," had given up in despair yesterday in Moscow, where he was unable to obtain a visa to enter the United States. The US Embassy has been closed since last Wednesday, due to a bomb threat and, according to US officials, "will be closed indefinitely."
Resigned, Sloudnov flew back last night to the Siberian city of Omsk, where he is a college student and trains under the watchful eye of his mother, who serves double duty as his coach.
Today, Sloudnov learned that the Russian Olympic Committee had managed somehow to obtain a visa for him — though not for two female swimmers also scheduled to compete in the Sprint Cup. After getting the go-ahead from meet organizers in the U.S., he repacked and will fly to Moscow tomorrow, then on to New York on Thursday.
The match-up between Sloudnov, American Ed Moses, the former world record-holder, and Germany's Mark Warnecke, the world record-holder for the 50-meter breaststroke, is touted as one of the highlights of the Sprint Cup. The meet has attracted many of the swimming world's top sprint stars, who will be competing for $310,000 in prizes.