City hopes competition highlights Olympic readiness

June 3, 2009 Two-hundred-eighty athletes from 20 countries are preparing to compete in the Pan-Am weightlifting championship at the UIC forum. Among them, the Cuban women's team, which is competing for the first time in the United States.

Tickets are free with the hope that enthusiastic crowds will send the message that Chicago is excited about hosting an Olympic-caliber competition. The weightlifting tournament is among several events Chicago's Olympic bid team will be hosting this summer.

The weightlifting competition begins Thursday morning at 9 a.m. and runs until 9 p.m. through the weekend. On Saturday evening, Soldier Field will host a World Cup-qualifying soccer match between the U.S. and Honduras. And the city plans a series of three-mile fun runs and a rally in Daley Plaza June 23 to celebrate "Olympic Day."

Chicago's bid team is also gearing up for its most important presentation to date. Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago 2016 Chairman Pat Ryan will travel to International Olympic Committee Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland in mid-June. Representatives from Chicago, Madrid, Rio and Tokyo will each have 45 minutes to present their Olympic plans to IOC members, followed by a 45-minute question-and-answer session.

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