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International Athletes Compete in Sarasota for Possible Olympic Opportunity

Posted: March 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Athlete & Artist Visas, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Reposted from Sarasota Herald Tribune website.  Article originally posted on March 3rd, 2014.

SARASOTA – International triathletes — ranging from established elites to up and coming athletes under 19 — won’t just be competing for prize money at the Sarasota Pan American Cup at Nathan Benderson Rowing Park.

The sprint championships — held in addition to competitions for juniors and mixed teams of men and women — will likely be indicative of how elite triathletes will perform in qualifying events for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In addition to the championship events, two triathlons for youth and age-group competitors will be held on the same course during the competition this weekend.

“We’re trying to create a weekend event that caters to all types of athletes from the elites down to the age groupers,” Race Director Bill Burnett said.

While the 2016 Olympic qualifying period does not begin until May 15, the Sarasota competition for juniors is an important pathway in earning a spot at the Olympic Youth Games scheduled in Nanjing, China, this summer.

Hosted by Sarasota, the North American Junior Championships determine which 16- and 17-year-olds can compete in the Olympic Youth Games qualifying event in Mexico this May and includes triathletes under 19 from the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

This is the second year that Sarasota has hosted a Pan American Cup, a competition also held more recently in Clermont — near Orlando — and Dallas, Texas. Roughly 100 men and women from eight countries have registered for the main sprint championship this year, Burnett said.

Part of the appeal is the venue: a 600-acre rowing park on Cattlemen Road with the infrastructure to support swimming, biking and running, and lots of room for spectators.

American Tommy Zaferes, a Santa Cruz, Calif., native, came in second at last year’s sprint championships. Zaferes appreciated the opportunity to compete in two Pan Am cups, as the Clermont race is held a week before Sarasota’s race.

“There are only 3 Pan Am Cups in the USA, so having the chance to race in Clermont one weekend, then Sarasota the next weekend was a good opportunity for some good racing without the hassle of insane travel,” said Zaferes, who is training in New Zealand.

The sprint distance events in Sarasota include a 750-meter swim, 20K bike and 5K run. Youth under 16 will compete on an abbreviated course and the mixed teams (two men, two women) will complete shorter circuits of all three events each.

While the sprint championships events for elite triathletes comes with $10,000 in prize money, the race is perhaps more crucial for junior athletes, who range from 16 to 19 years old.

The event will serve as a selection event for the Panamerican Triathlon Confederation Junior Championships this spring — a key race in making the world championships — in addition to the Olympic Youth Games qualifying event in Mexico.

“These are some of very best athletes out there who are looking to eventually go to the Olympics,” Burnett said.

It’s a quest shared by many others.

Zafares will not compete in Sarasota this spring because he has chosen to start the racing season in New Zealand. Making the Olympics, he explains, relies on his ability to frequently compete, train up to 30 hours a week and rack up wins in key races.

Florida has been an important part of his development as a triathlete. He earned his pro card at an elite development race in Clermont during 2010, and he remembers the Sarasota’s Pan-American Cup as a fast course free of traffic.

“That race went great,” he said. “I just got outsprinted the last 200 meters by a Portuguese Olympian, so I can’t be bummed.”

Sarasota Sports Medicine Doctor Sees Positive Results from use of Stem Cells

Posted: December 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Athlete & Artist Visas | Tags: , , , | No Comments »


Dr. William Bennett’s Office on Tamiami Trail

Dr. William Bennett has been practicing sports medicine in Sarasota for 6 years.  He was an early adopter of the experimental use of adult stem cells in treating sports injuries.  After 2-4 years of follow-up study he is more willing to share what he has found, and the results are good.

He treated one of the world’s major Polo Patrons with bone marrow derived adult stem cells.  After the procedure, this patient took his team, Zacara, on to win the British Open Gold Cup and the US Open.  This patient had flown from London to Sarasota to be treated by Dr. Bennett.

He has treated the national over-50 bodybuilding champion, the AAA beach volleyball champion, the vintage motorcycle champion, and a 16-year-old IMG golfer in similar fashion.

The advantage to using adult derived stem cells, besides the fact that they do not present any of the moral issues that embryonic stem cells do, is that the stem cells can grow into any other kind of cell.  When Dr. Bennett injects stem cells into a damaged area the cells automatically begin to regrow tissue necessary to that area.  There is a recent push among orthopedists to use human-derived treatments.  The more the body can heal itself the more long-term and healthy the repair will be.  Using stem-cells is part of this movement.

For more information visit Dr. Bennett’s website, and click on the “Health Library” link.  Dr. Bennett’s office is located at 1250 S. Tamiami Tr Suite 303, Sarasota, FL 34239, (941) 953-5509.

For Local Athletes:

Posted: June 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Athlete & Artist Visas | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

SARASOTA SPORTS FESTIVAL –  SATURDAY,   JUNE 16th   from    8:00am – 3:00pm

The much anticipated circus themed playground at Payne Park, 2050 Adams Lane, will open Saturday, June 16 in conjunction with the inaugural Sarasota Sports Festival. To celebrate the opening of the playground, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey(r) will perform several free interactive CircusFit(r) performances throughout the day. The Sports Festival is free and runs 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. rain or shine. “I’m thrilled the opening of the playground will coincide with the festival,” said Mayor Suzanne Atwell. “It’s been exciting to watch the playground come out of the ground with its circus theme and bright colors. With such a rich circus history in Sarasota, it’s only fitting Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey(r) will be there to help us clown around and celebrate in style,” said Mayor Atwell.

Designed with Sarasota’s circus heritage in mind, the brightly colored playground encompasses one-half acre of Payne Park near the main entrance at Adams Lane and East Avenue. The playground offers two areas for different age groups: one area for children ages 2-to-5-years-old and the other for ages 5-to-12-years-old. More than 300 children can play simultaneously. Located near the swings, rock climbing walls, slides and crawl tubes is a music circle with three musical instruments (drums, contrabass chimes and an instrument similar to a xylophone) which are tuned and ready for play. The playground also offers a water feature with four misting rings allowing children to run through and cool off.

Ringling Bros.(r) will perform three free CircusFit(r) shows near the playground at: 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. The performances will be interactive with the audience and include fun activities such as a laugh-a-thon, obstacle course and fitness training combining fun circus skills with stretching, strength building and aerobic exercise.

Several clowns will be on hand at the festival, plus a Ringling Bros. balloon artist will bend balloons into a variety of animal shapes and hats. Don’t miss the Ringling Bros.’ Diaper Dash at 10 a.m. — a fun run for ages 1-to-4-years-old.

The Sarasota Sports Festival will include a one mile family fun run/walk, BMX and Strider bicycling, disc golf, aerobic tennis, 10 & under tennis, Teddy Tennis (ages 3-6), skateboarding and group exercise classes. Equipment will be provided for each sport. Registration forms must be completed to participate. To view a schedule of events click here.

Parking: Free public parking will be available in the Sarasota County parking garage, located at Ringling Boulevard and School Avenue, adjacent to Payne Park. For more information about the Sarasota Sports Festival, including the new playground, visit, follow the festival on Twitter @SRQSportsFest or contact Jan Thornburg, Public Information Officer: 941-954-2613.