Mexico City 1968
Portland, Oregon: Another 5:30a alarm to
watch Ashton Eaton in the first event of the two-day decathlon competition - the
100m. I lounged to the sofa to watch the morning session and may have dozed
on-and-off over the next several hours, but noticed Dave had joined me to watch
the 5000m heats.
I cannot report on every event, but can report the WGA has a decent lead after
the first day of the decathlon competition, with Canadian Damian Warner nipping
at his heels. Oregon Duck Deajah Stevens finished 7th in the 200m final. Neither
Duck (Cyrus Hostetler and Sam Crouser) made it into the javelin final. I cannot
be disappointed in their results, but will always only be proud and can't
believe these young athletes were able to participate in the 2016 Olympics.
Think of the stories they can tell their grandchildren!
Now, about the Mexico City Olympics!
The 1968 Mexico City Olympics were filled with firsts. The first time the games
had been held in a Latin American country. First time in a Spanish-speaking
country. First games with an all-weather track, versus the usual cinder track.
First time a woman (Mexican hurdler, Eriqueta Basilio) lit the cauldron during
the opening ceremonies. First time the games were televised in color.
A young boxer, George Forman, won the gold medal in the heavy weight division.
Oregonian (a Beaver!) Dick Fosbury introduced a new style of high jumping,
employing a "back-first" jumping technique. Now used nearly universally by
jumpers, the "Fosbury Flop" went global after the Mexico City games.
Due to the high elevation of Mexico City (7350 feet) many records - especially
in the jumps and throws - fell. These new records were asterisked for years with
a notation: Air of Mexico. Bob Beamon long jumped 29.2 feet and the
record held for 23 years, when Mike Powell finally broke the record.
I was only eight years old during these games, but can remember the controversy
when Tommie Smith and John Carlos sported black gloves and raised them in a
salute against the treatment of African-Americans in the US during their 200m
medal ceremony. Smith won the gold, Carlos the bronze. Peter Norman of Australia
had the silver and wore a "Olympic Project for Human Rights" badge during the
ceremony to support Smith and Carlos.
The aftermath of their protest is filled with even more controversy. IOC
President, Avery Brundage, wanted the men suspended from the American team and
expelled from the athlete village. US officials refused, and Brundage threatened
to expel the ENTIRE US TEAM from the games... so the American officials had no
choice but to ask Smith and Carlos to return to the states. (Dave and I discussed
the situation and think, today, the entire US team would have been on the next
charter out of town.)
The reaction from Brundage is even more controversial, as he was head of the IOC
during the Berlin Olympics and, as the American Olympic officials stated,
Brundage (a prominent Nazi sympathizer!) had no problem with the Nazi salute
used during the Berlin games.
Oh. The. Drama.
Tommie Smith and Juan Carlos were ostracized by most Americans upon their return
to the states. Both men continued careers in athletes, teaching and coaching and
eventually the tide turned and the men received the Arthur
Ashe Courage Award in 2008.
Things were not so forgiving for the Australian silver medalist. Peter Norman
was banned from Australian Olympics and was not chosen for the 1972 team, even
though he qualified over and over. Peter Norman was not invited to participate
in any of the local festivities during the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Norman died of
a heart attack in 2006. He was 64. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were pall
bearers at his funeral. The Australian Parliament offered a posthumous apology
to Mr. Norman in 2012.
The 20.06 200m Norman ran in the Mexico City games remains as the Australian
record to this day - nearly 50 years now.
To honor the Mexico City games, I served Mexican food. Okay, so
this isn't such a rare occurrence around here. No matter.
I made a little salad with corn kernels, diced tomatoes and
cilantro, tossed in a little olive oil, lime juice, cumin, dried chipotle
peppers and salt. The mixture was stuffed into perfectly-ripe avocado
I totally cheated on the main course. Enchiladas I
made/froze a few weeks ago. (Be nice. I'm seriously sleep-deprived this
And though this has not a thing to do with Mexico and everything to do with
my grocer having gorgeous organic blackberries this week... I baked a few
Another Big Day for The Ducks tomorrow. Mr. Eaton hurdles at
5:30a pacific (on NBCSN)... followed by discus, pole vault, javelin and then that
little matter of four laps around the track. Matthew Centrowitz races the
1500m again in the semi-finals. No doubt, several Ducks will compete in relay
Tomorrow? Brazilian food!
Until my next update, I remain, your "saluting compassion" correspondent.
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