Olympic athletes can sleep easy in Atlanta

by Jana D. Jones

Daily Cougar Staff

Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale helped assure Olympians of a good night's sleep while competing in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta this summer.

Bela Karolyi, Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrell, other world class athletes and McIngvale were on the UH campus Wednesday for a special Gallery Furniture press conference held at the UH Athletics/Alumni Center.

They were present to announce Gallery Furniture as an official 1996 Olympics sponsor, as well as to promote the Gallery Furniture Games being held on campus Saturday.

McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture, said he was proud to be the official furniture sponsor of the games and that he would be sending 11,732 pieces of furniture to Atlanta.

McIngvale has been a sponsor of Karolyi's gymnasts for about 10 years, but wanted to get involved at the Olympic games.

"(The Olympics is) a great event for all of the country and a great avenue to broaden our scope with Gallery Furniture," McIngvale said.

"We've got a lot of great athletes here in Houston that will be going to the Olympic games and we're gonna make sure they all have a great mattress to sleep on," he said.

Karolyi gave credit to McIngvale for helping send nine Houston Olympians to the event in recent history.

"We are the only town and probably only country in the world, who provided as a single city, nine Olympians in the past three Olmypic games," Karolyi said.

Karolyi also said he sees the Gallery Furniture sponsorship as the first step in a campaign to bring the 2004 or 2008 Olympic Games to Houston.

"You say, `yeah right,' but that's how it was when they started in Atlanta," eight-time gold medalist Carl Lewis said about the prospect of the Olympics giving a future berth site to Houston. McIngvale is also the sponsor of Saturday's meet, which will be held at the indoor track of the UH Athletics/Alumni Center.

The event will feature gold medal winners Burrell and Lewis, who both train at UH, as well as Michael Marsh, a 1992 Olympic gold medalist, and other world-class athletes.

Cougars track coach Tom Tellez said these games are a chance to showcase UH's great amateur and professional athletes.

"If you've never seen these athletes in person, it's a whole different ballgame," he said. "It's a chance for people to see them in action, indoors, up close. In Europe, they would die to see Carl Lewis."

Any UH student who wishes to see Lewis, Burrell or any of the other competitors Saturday can purchase tickets at a special discount rate of $12.50.

However, tickets must be purchased at the UH ticket office located at Hofheinz Pavilion. Students are also warned that the $3 ticket discount offered in the Houston Chronicle is not valid when purchasing a ticket at the student price.

Visit The Daily Cougar