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White House science guy clears hurdles... literally

By Ed O'Keefe

Kei Koizumi accepts his gold medal in hurdles at the Gay Games in Cologne, Germany (Photo courtesy Kei Koizumi)

Eye Opener

Kei Koizumi faces plenty of hurdles at the office, dealing with budgetary and policy issues in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. And last weekend he won a gold medal for clearing some others — literally.

Koizumi, 41, earned gold last Thursday in the 110-meter hurdles at the 8th International Gay Games, held in Cologne, Germany. He completed the race in 23.25 seconds, placing first in the 40 to 44-year-old age group.

About 9,500 athletes from 65 countries competed in this year’s games, first held in 1982 in San Francisco. Athletes compete in various age groups in most of the traditional Summer Olympic sports as well as golf and figure skating. Cleveland is set to host the 2014 games, but tensions reportedly have arisen between the Federation of Gay Games and the Cleveland organizers over concerns about funding. The Washington Blade has speculated that the games may go to the runner-up host city, Washington, D.C.

Koizumi joined OSTP last year from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and spends his days focused on budget and appropriations issues related to NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation and the Energy Department. In his down time he swims and runs, but rarely practices for hurdles, he said.

“I didn’t think I was hooked on it, but I’d done the hurdles at a different distance at the last games and thought I’d try this sprint distance in Cologne,” Koizumi said in an interview.

“I tried it, and hey, I was pretty good at it,” he said with a laugh.

Koizumi’s husband, Commerce Department employee Jeff Dutton, also earned silver at the games for placing second in his first-ever marathon.

Tongue firmly planted in cheek, OSTP spokesman Rick Weiss said colleagues already considered Koizumi “a world-class hurdler” for regularly clearing bureaucratic barriers.

“We at OSTP expect such nimbleness, but do not generally give out medals for it,” Weiss said. “It’s nice to see Kei so aptly rewarded.”

He brought his gold medal to work on Monday, the same day President Obama feted the Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints, but refused to wear it around the office.

No word yet if the athletic First Couple plan to acknowledge Koizumi’s win or seek his exercise tips.

In the meantime, the Ohio native said he’ll stay focused on budget issues and training for the 2014 games.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | August 11, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Workplace Issues  
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Who gets to throw the limp-wristed javelin?

Posted by: jiji1 | August 11, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

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