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Local professor consulted on Beijing's Olympic turf

Before any Olympic athlete can take to field, somebody first has to take care of the field. That's where a North Carolina State turf management professor comes in.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — While most people will watch the 2008 Summer Olympics this month for the competition, Dr. Grady Miller will be watching for something else – the sports turf.

The North Carolina State University professor has made a career of researching sports turf grass.

Last summer, he was part of a group of scientists from around the world who went to Beijing to offer Olympics organizers advice on keeping the grass healthy.

He toured many of the stadiums where this year's games will take place, including the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium and National Stadium, site of the opening and closing ceremonies.

"We were able to look at those and some of the issues they are facing," Miller said about the playing surfaces. His team taught Chinese organizers how to maintain the surfaces during competition.

For example, he says, it is not unusual for staff to handpick weeds, instead of spraying for them.

All of the turf studies at N.C. State paid off in that Olympic advice. The climates of Raleigh and Beijing are similar, Miller said. Each has both a warm and a cool season that affects how the grass grows.

"This is a showcase event," Miller said. "You want it to look the best on TV and for the people who have paid a lot of money to attend these games."

Maintaining the surface can be a challenge, Miller said, when growing grass in the shade of a stadium and when the fields are used for non-sporting events, like the opening and closing ceremonies.

From his observation, Miller said Beijing had a good start.

"Beijing is in much better shape than Athens was four years ago," he said.

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Erin Hartness, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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