Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 143, July 2021 July 2020 - Page 16

SAYS sport man says by MANFRED SEIDLER


SAYS sport man says by MANFRED SEIDLER

Magical Olympic Memories

Citius – Altius – Fortius … Faster – Higher – Stronger . That is the motto of the biggest sporting extravaganza that comes around once every four years and holds hundreds of millions of viewers spellbound to their television sets . And like so many other people , I too will be ‘ glued to the box ’ that brings the power , emotion and drama into our living rooms . But while so many others will be watching for enjoyment , I will have the privilege of working on my fourth Olympics , once again focused on the track and field and road running events .

It is an incredible feeling being able to report or commentate on , or produce the visuals of these spectacular athletic feats and stories of human drama . To be honest , never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would get paid to watch sport , and it is a huge privilege I cherish . So as a prelude to the ‘ 202one Games ,’ I am going to take you down memory lane , looking back at some of the highlights I have witnessed at the Olympics , from those early days as a fan in my teenage years , to working as a reporter , analyst and commentator . It has been quite the journey , and one I have been very fortunate to make .

1984 … The Great Carl Lewis
That I love my middle-distance athletics is no secret , but ironically , it was a race that lasted less than 10 seconds that hooked me on the Olympics . As a 15-yearold , whilst visiting my uncle in 1984 , I was shown reruns of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles . At that time , I was a football nut and had just started
Carl Lewis
playing tennis , and not having been exposed to athletics at school level , it was very much off my radar . ( Athletics was not a sporting discipline at the school I went to .) So , when I saw the fluid , graceful , but powerful motion of Lewis , it hit me like a train . This was a beautiful sport … and I was hooked .
I watched as many of the races as I could in my uncle ’ s VHS archive . After that , I would read the papers and always looked for athletics news , specifically following the exploits of King Carl , and the ‘ pretender to the throne ,’ Ben Johnson . It was classic good versus evil – sound familiar ? Bolt vs Gatlin – as there were rumours flying that Johnson was not clean .
I will never forget the 1988 men ’ s 100m final , when Johnson destroyed the field to win the title , his right arm raised and looking back at Lewis . I was sitting in the living room of my neighbour , who was throwing a birthday party , but while everyone else was having a few drinks and dancing , I was glued to the TV . Not long after that , Johnson was disqualified for a positive drug test , and the media had a field day . The stuttering Johnson was just not a good fit for the sport , compared to the grace and poise of Lewis . Again , sound familiar ?
1992 … Elana ’ s Epic Silver
Who can forget that day , 7 August 1992 , as Elana Meyer was thrashing out the laps in the women ’ s 10,000m , with just the ever-present shadow of Ethiopia ’ s Derartu Tulu on her shoulder , the only athlete standing between Elana and a historic gold medal . Historic , as this was the first South African team to compete in an Olympic Games since 1964 , with South Africa having been excluded from the Games ( and international sport , for the most part ) due to its political policies . In 1992 , though , the world welcomed back South Africa as the winds of change had blown through the country and the Apartheid government had all but crumbled .
South Africa had sent a strong team to Barcelona . Myrtle Bothma progressed to the final in the women ’ s 400m hurdles , but hit the seventh hurdle hard and broke
Images : Courtesy Ebay , Letsrun . com , olympicgamesmarathon . com , Olympics . com & Ultramacho . com . br
16 ISSUE 143 JULY 2021 / www . modernathlete . co . za