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Munich 1972 Olympic Games

Munich 1972 Olympic Games - XX OlympiadMunich 1972 Olympic Logo

These games have been for ever tainted by the massacre of Israeli athletes by Arab terrorists.  I pray that such an atrocity will never mar the games again.  At the time and since, I marvel at the dignified behaviour of the Israelis.  No-one really knew whether the games should continue.  Perhaps the deciding logic was that those who died would have wished the Olympics to carry on rather than be aborted.

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Olga Korbut - Star of the 1972 Olympic Games

On a bright note Olga Korbut entranced us by her gymnastic interpretations.  Perhaps there have been better pure gymnastics, but she was a breath of fresh air and captured our hearts.  There is often a saying that such and such cricket or baseball star could clear a bar by making everyone go out and watch their performance; well Olga Korbut had that star quality, you wanted to see her even if you were not a regular fan of gymnastics.

American Athletes - One Hero But Zillions of Zeros

One star to immerge from the water was Mark Spitz.  Perhaps the greatest testament to his ability is that every new great swimmer is touted as the 'New Mark Spitz'.  His record of 7 gold medals at one Olympic games stood until Michael Phelps won 8 in Beijing.

Apart from Mark Spitz, the American invincibility was shattered.  It reminded me of a gambler's loosing streak when you cannot find a winner no matter what you do, flat horses fall in the straight, stewards disqualify your winners, your horse turns out to have been doped; American athletes found these and even more bizarre ways of losing.

Firstly two American's mistook the time of the 2nd round heat of the 100m so miss the race and are out of the competition.  The pole vaulters suffer because of a rule change in the specification of their poles.  Jim Ryan the great hope for the 1500m fell.  But the biggest fiasco was the American Basketball that somehow lost to the USSR by a miracle basket in the last second.  While the legality of that last basket is challenged to this day, if you look at the results sheet, the USSR still have the gold medals!

Even those who won managed to disgrace their country.  Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett twirling their medals (gold and silver, respectively) and joking with one another as "The Star-Spangled Banner" was being played during the award ceremony.  Their fellow countrymen were outraged and they were banned from the Olympics for life. 

 Dave Wottle "The Throttle", who won the 800m, failed to remove his golf cap at the victory ceremony.  Conspiratory theorists had a field day speculating on what he was protesting about, but there was a much simpler explanation. Wottle plain forgot to take off his cap.

Other Happier Events at Munich 1972Munich 1972 Olympic Waldi Mascot

Lasse Virén of Finland won the 5,000 and 10,000m, he would win again in Montreal 1976, but his lack of success in between would cause a deal of speculation.

Handball (last held in 1936) and Archery (last held in 1920) returned as Olympic sports, while badminton was a demonstration sport.

Incidentally, the Olympic mascot made its first appearance in the form of 'Waldi', he looks like a dachshund see right.

Happy Ending to the Munich 1972 Marathon

American Frank Shorter, who coincidentally was born in Munich, was approaching the stadium when a German student Norbert Sudhaus, wearing a track uniform, joined the race for the closing stages.  Imagine the home crowd roar has the German 'athlete' came into sight apparently leading the race.  Fortunately not all the officials were taken-in and they corralled the imposter and frog-marched him off the track.

Suddenly, the natives turned hostile and started booing.  Now Frank Shorter was somewhat miffed as he thought that an unsportsmanlike crowd was catcalling him.  Rarely has an Olympic Marathon winner had such a disappointing reception.  As a matter of trivia, this was the third time in Olympic history that an American had won the marathon, but in none of those races did the winner enter the stadium first.

 

Footnote
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See more about The London 2012 Olympic Games:

2012 London Olympics   • 1952 Helsinki Olympics   • 1956 Melbourne Olympics   • 1960 Rome Olympics

1964 Tokyo Olympics   • 1968 Mexico Olympics   • 1972 Munich Olympics   • 1976 Montreal Olympics

1980 Moscow Olympics   • 1984 LA Olympics   • 1988 Seoul Olympics   • 1992 Barcelona Olympics