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Olympic committees tab Pele as the best

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The world's national Olympics committees have voted Brazilian soccer star Pele as No. 1 in their top five Athletes of the Century even though he's the only one of the five who didn't take part in the Olympics.

Behind Pele were Muhammad Ali, winner of the Olympic light-heavyweight title in 1960 before becoming three-time world heavyweight champion; Carl Lewis, winner of nine track and field gold medals in four games from 1984-96; basketball great Michael Jordan, a member of the United States "Dream Team" gold medalists in 1992; and Mark Spitz, winner of seven swimming gold medals at the '72 Games.The NOCs also chose their top five leaders in sport, with Baron Pierre de Coubertin, architect of the modern Olympics and International Olympic Committee president from 1896-1925, as No. 1. Current IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, who has held the position since 1980, was second.

Former FIFA president Joao Havelange finished third and was followed by Primo Nebiolo, who was president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation for 18 years until his death last month, and Avery Brundage, IOC president from 1952-72.

In other Olympic news:

The Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National kicked off Thursday evening with a synchronized aerials exhibition event in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

The event consisted of teams of two going off huge ramps of snow at the same time and performing flips and twists.

Americans Eric Bergoust (Missoula, MT) and Britt Swartley (Blue Bell, PA) took the top spot out of eight men's teams. On the women's side, Canadian Veronica Brenner and Hilde Lid of Norway were victorious.

Bergoust won a gold medal in aerials at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan and won the 1999 World Championships in Meiringen, Sweden.

Swartley took home a fifth place finish in Nagano and was ninth at the 1999 Worlds.

The Sprint U.S. Freestyle Grand National continues with mogul competition Friday and aerials Saturday.