Sorry my Voice posts have become an All-Burgener sports page, but when I called Mike Burgener for a former college football player and Marine’s perspective on San Diego State practicing at Camp Pendleton, I had to ask him about his son, too.

Casey Burgener, if you didn’t hear, qualified for the USA Olympic men’s weightlifting team on May 17 at the Olympic trials in Atlanta when he finished third in the super heavyweight division.

At least that’s what Burgener, 25, thought.

The Rancho Buena Vista High alumnus traveled to Beijing with the USA Olympic weightlifting team as planned only to learn on Thursday that the International Weightlifting Federation had ruled the USA would only have two spots at the Olympics instead of three.

Understandably, it was a great disappointment for Burgener, but his father, a Bonsall resident and retired teacher and coach at Rancho Buena Vista, said Casey has received an outpouring of support in Beijing from other U.S. Olympians, as well as athletes from other countries. When Casey talked with his father on Thursday morning, he told him he was so depressed that his father shouldn’t expect to hear from him for three or four days.

But support from other Olympians helped salve the wound, and officials at USA Weightlifting, the national governing body for the sport, found a way to keep him busy. Casey checked in with an update.

The 6-foot-2, 275-pound Burgener told his father he’s even serving as a bodyguard at some practices and games for the U.S. men’s basketball ‘Redeem Team,’ which includes Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

“He said the players have been coming up to him and offering support,” Mike said. “He said it was weird that he was looking at them as the best in the world, and they were treating him like one of the best in the world at what he does. He was real impressed with them; he said they’re regular guys.”

Well, the “regular guys” label might be hard to apply to pampered multi-millionaire athletes, but the point was that NBA stars took the time to offer their sympathy.

Mike Burgener said USA Weightlifting has also provided Casey with tickets to attend other Olympic events. And Casey also is watching his fiancée compete. Natalie Woolfolk is a member of the U.S. women’s weightlifting team.

—TOM SHANAHAN

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