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DATE News (chronologically)
05/21/08
irl
Yamaguchi serving as honorary starter of Indianapolis 500
1992 Olympic gold medalist, popular professional figure skater and recent "Dancing with the Stars" winner Kristi Yamaguchi will wave the green flag to start the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25.

As the first female honorary starter in Indianapolis 500 history, Yamaguchi will send the elite 33-car starting field into the quest for the checkered flag and racing immortality. The race will be broadcast live at 1 p.m. (ET) on ABC, the IMS Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio.

Yamaguchi replaces world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. as honorary starter after Mayweather was forced to relinquish his role due to a death in his family.

"Unfortunately I will not be able to attend this year's race due to the loss of my uncle," Mayweather said. "I wish all the drivers the best, particularly my friend Helio Castroneves, and hope that everyone has a safe race, too."

In addition to her Olympic gold medal-winning performance at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, Yamaguchi is a two-time World Figure Skating Champion (1991-92), a U.S. National Champion (1992) and a four-time World Professional Figure Skating Champion. She was one of the first U.S. women to compete in both pairs' events and ladies' singles. She won the 1988 World Junior Pairs title and the 1989 and 1990 U.S. national pairs title with partner Rudy Galindo.

Yamaguchi, a native of Fremont, Calif., was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in December 2005.

She added to her championship resume May 20 when she was named overall champion of season six of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," in which she was paired with professional dancer Mark Ballas.

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