Olympic cyclists and partners Petra Rossner and Judith Arndt of Germany this week signed up to join the Gay Games Ambassadors Program in Chicago.

It is the latest move in the battle between Montr?’s first Rendez-Vous Outgames and the Federation of Gay Games in Chicago to attract high-profile stars to their events.

The two events emerged on the gay calendar when a political spat occurred after the Sydney 2002 Gay Games.

Montr? was the original choice but negotiations over contracts, budgets, and registration limitations led to harsh disagreements between the winning bid city and the governing body of the quadrennial GLBT sports event, the Federation of Gay Games.

The Federation opted for Chicago instead and Montr? walked away and set up its own version -“ the Outgames.

As a result, there will be two international gay Olympic-style events held in July 2006. Event organisers have spent the past year trying to establish their event as the destination of choice.

A supporter of the Sydney Gay Games in 2002, Rossner said, It’s our goal to bring the Gay Games to the world’s attention, to get more people to know about this event and the whole idea behind the Gay Games. Knowing that cycling has always been a big part only makes us happier to tell people about the Gay Games.

Rossner, 38, recently ended a stunning 20-year professional cycling career, including 25 German national titles, 10 World Cup victories, an Olympic Gold Medal in the pursuit at Barcelona in 1992 and a World Championship win in the pursuit at Stuttgart in 1991. She was the World Cup Series Champion in 2002.

Her partner, Arndt, 28, capped an outstanding 2004 season by winning the Gold Medal in the Elite women’s road race and the Silver Time Trial Medal at the UCI world championships.

And at the Athens Summer Olympic Games two months earlier, Arndt won a Silver Medal in the women’s road race and made headlines around the world for giving a one-finger salute as she crossed the finish line to the German cycling federation for leaving Rossner off the 2004 Olympic team.

Team Sydney is hosting a fundraising dinner on Tuesday 12 July, to mark one year to go before the opening ceremony of the Chicago Gay Games. Proceeds from the dinner will help finance a Team Sydney delegates visit to Chicago in November.

Autographed photos of Olympic athletes Ji Wallace and Lauren Jackson will be auctioned with proceeds going to the Gay Games scholarship fund. Dinner places are limited to 50. Email rowek@bigpond.net.au for more information.

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