Four-time world champ elected captain

GEORGIOUPOLIS, Greece -- Three-time Olympic hurdler Allen
Johnson has been elected captain of the U.S. track and field team
at the Athens Games.

Johnson, 1996 Olympic gold medalist and the only person to win
four world championships in the 110-meter hurdles, was elected this
week by the 82 athletes on hand at the U.S. pre-Olympic training
camp at a seaside resort in Crete.

Johnson, 33, is a favorite to win the gold in his event in
Athens. Known for his accessibility and leadership in the sport, he
won the Sam Skinner Award this year, which is given by the Track
and Field Writers of America for cooperation with the media.

China's close shave
Houston Rockets center Yao Ming says he won't shave for six months if Team China fails to make the quarterfinals of the men's Olympic basketball tournament, the Calgary Sun reported in Friday's editions.

"We have to qualify for the next round, for the quarterfinals," Yao told the newspaper. "If we don't, I won't shave for six months as punishment."

Del Harris, the Dallas Mavericks assistant who coaches the Chinese team, said that Yao and his teammates from China could be a factor in the tournament's late rounds.

"I think we have the potential to achieve something that no Chinese team has ever done before," said Harris, who previously has helped coach Canadian, Puerto Rican and U.S. teams.

China opens against Spain on Sunday.

Accident befalls Polish gymnast
Polish gymnast Joanna Skowronska fell from
the uneven bars during training and fractured a cervical vertebra,
but did not endure any neurological problems.

She was hurt Thursday and is expected to stay in the hospital
until Monday. Doctors said she will wear a neck collar for about
two months.

Skowronska finished 65th in the all-around competition at world
championships last year.

Bush gives U.S. athletes pep talk
ATHENS, Greece -- Former President Bush told members of the
U.S. Olympic team Friday that winning a medal isn't as important as
representing their country "with class and dignity."

Bush, who is leading the official American delegation to the
games, gave a pre-Olympic pep talk and mingled with the athletes
for more than an hour at the team's practice facility.

"You do make your country proud," said Bush, who was
accompanied by his wife, Barbara, and their granddaughters, Barbara
and Jenna -- the children of the current president.

"Over the next two or three weeks, you're going to stand before
the world wearing our nation's flag," Bush said. "It doesn't
matter if you, yourself, are the medal winner. What matters is that
you represent yourself, your sport and our great country, with
class and dignity, come what may."

Venus tips her hat
Venus Williams is giving a whole new meaning to the term "overhead."

The defending Olympic singles tennis champion and budding
fashion designer served up a new hat she created for McDonald's
employees to wear while serving food during the games.

The oversized, red-twill newsboy cap features abstract designs
in black representing various Olympic sports. Each one bears
Williams' signature on the inside label.

"My first designs were more like a baseball cap,
more like what you see in the McDonald's stores," Williams said. "But then they came
back to me and said, 'No, we want you to do something more creative.'"

Creativity has been the trademark for Williams and her sister,
Serena, when it comes to their tennis attire. They are nothing
short of fashion icons with their sexy, skin-baring styles and
meticulously coordinated accessories.

Serena Williams was supposed to appear in Athens alongside her
sister, but pulled out of the Olympics this week with a knee injury.

When Venus steps onto the court during the Olympics, she'll be
wearing someone else's design: a Diane von Furstenberg ensemble in
red, white and blue.

"I have, like, a skirt with a handkerchief hemline and a halter
that crosses in the front like a V," Williams said. "It's fun! No
one else gets to wear these clothes."

Bush launching ads that tie in to Games
Keying in on the Olympics, President Bush's
campaign unveiled a new television ad touting "two more
free nations" and "two fewer terrorists regimes" as the summer
games begin, part of a $28 million advertising effort for August.

The ad will run during the Olympic games and sports programming
on national cable channels. In a first for a presidential campaign,
the ad also will air on a TV network of 250 fitness centers in
Washington, D.C.; New York City; and eight swing states.

Seeking to bolster his national security credentials, Bush's new
ad reminds voters that his administration succeeded in toppling
controlling governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ad shows a
coliseum during a previous Olympics as it notes the world had 40
democracies in 1972, compared with 120 today.

As a swimmer dives into her race lane, a voice says: "Freedom
is spreading throughout the world like a sunrise." Then it adds:
"With strength, resolve and courage, democracy will triumph over
terror. And, hope will defeat hatred."

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.