MARY AND ZOLA
Kenny Moore once again weds the strong heart of a marathoner with the voice of a poet. His story (Triumph and Tragedy in Los Angeles, Aug. 20) was eye-openingly beautiful, and this is from one who saw firsthand from an L.A. Coliseum seat much of what he reported. His description of the Mary Decker-Zola Budd incident has a Sophoclean vision that probes the principals without passing judgment. Extraordinary. Hang it in SI's literary Louvre alongside his other fine features.
It was a shame to see Mary Decker fall in the women's 3,000, but the real tragedy was her attempt to take Zola Budd's career with her. It's very difficult to believe that Mary was the Sportswoman of the Year in '83 after her attack on Budd after the race.
This is not to demean in any way the accomplishments of Carl Lewis in the '84 Olympic track and field events, nor is it intended to cast aspersions on the tremendous feat of Jesse Owens in 1936. But let's not forget that Owens wasn't the first to win four track and field events in the Olympics.
Alvin Kraenzlein of the University of Pennsylvania won four in the Olympics in Paris in 1900: the 60-meter dash, the 110 meters, the 200-meter hurdles and the running broad jump (now called the long jump).
The only blemish on Kraenzlein's record might be in the broad jump, which probably should have been won by Meyer Prinstein of Syracuse University. Prinstein, though he was Jewish, gave his pledge to the pious Syracuse administration and to his teammates that he wouldn't participate in any Sunday competition. He kept his word and fumed on the sidelines when Kraenzlein won the event by less than an inch in the Sunday finals. Prinstein had had the best qualifying jump in the preliminaries. (At the time, qualifying distances stood if they weren't surpassed in the finals.) In the 1904 games in St. Louis, in which Kraenzlein didn't compete, Prinstein won the long jump as well as the hop-step-and-jump, as the triple jump was then called.
Pompano Beach, Fla.
The Olympics may be over, but one Olympic sport remains: assessing Anita Verschoth's predictions in the preview issue (The 1984 Olympics, July 18). The figures are in: 99 of 225 gold medals correct (44%); 52 of 220 silvers (24%); 41 of 241 bronzes (17%). If the type of medal isn't considered, 360 of her 687 picks were correct (52.4%). Fifteen of the events were predicted perfectly, while in 15 cases no medal winner was correctly picked. Verschoth was best in basketball (2 of 2 golds), boxing (8 of 12 golds), swimming (24 of 32 golds) and diving (7 of 12 medals). She was worst in yachting (1 of 7 golds), kayaking (2 of 12 golds), cycling (5 of 24 medals), modern pentathlon (1 of 6 medals) and shooting (6 of 33 medals). Considering that more than 7,000 athletes were competing, I'd rate it at least a silver-medal performance.
By the way, I'm glad I didn't bet the house and farm on fencer Dorina Vaccaroni—she got a bronze, not a gold.
JEFFREY S. SIMONOFF
New York City
I don't want to put down Mary Lou Retton, who's obviously a superb athlete and a determined competitor, but TV coverage and newspaper and magazine reporting leave the impression that Retton was the dominant performer in women's gymnastics at the Los Angeles Games. Yet your medal summary in the August 20 issue (Olympic Medal Winners) indicates that Retton won one gold medal (in all-around), two silvers (one of them a team silver) and two bronzes. On the other hand, Ecaterina Szabo of Romania won four golds (one of them a team gold) and one silver. And my understanding is that she would have won the all-around gold except for a rare and untimely slip. I don't understand much about gymnastics competition, but would it be correct to assume that Szabo, on the basis of the competition at Los Angeles, is superior to Retton? Just asking.
•Winning the all-around title in gymnastics is more significant than an accumulation of individual medals. Also, Szabo didn't make a slip that cost her the all-around. She was leading, with one apparatus left. She scored an excellent 9.90 on the uneven bars, while Retton got a perfect 10 on her vault. The difference won the gold for Retton.—ED.
While basically agreeing with William Taaffe's favorable review of ABC's Olympic coverage (TV/RADIO, Aug. 20), I think he lets the network off the hook in two instances. One was Kathleen Sullivan's inept interview with Mary Decker the day after Decker's collision with Zola Budd in the 3,000. The situation deserved the kind of tough but compassionate questioning that Howard Cosell used earlier during an interview with beleaguered U.S. boxing coach Pat Nappi. What Sullivan gave us was five minutes or so of fawning.
The other instance was ABC's interruption of its coverage during the U.S. women's gold-medal volleyball match against China. The Chinese had won a very exciting first game 16-14. When network coverage resumed, about half an hour later, the match was in the third game and we learned that the U.S. had been blown out in the second game. ABC wouldn't pull away from a long football game. Why did it do so here?
On the plus side we should remember Marty Liquori's candor in the matter of the women's 3,000. Liquori offered us a frame-by-frame review of the pertinent sections of the race film, showing us how the collision happened, and he said that he had been wrong to blame Budd initially. He helped restore my faith in fairness in TV coverage.
Long Beach, Calif.
William Taaffe's otherwise good article on ABC's Olympic coverage had but one glaring omission—the network's incredibly shabby treatment of soccer.
ABC officials have reportedly explained that the U.S. wasn't in the medal race and that there was a lot of soccer on its international feed. These arguments are specious at best.
First, soccer had no air time even when the U.S. team was doing well in the preliminary rounds. Second, the fact that soccer seemed to be the only sport the domestic feed wasn't carrying shows a complete disregard for the game's millions of fans across the country. The best-kept secret of the Olympics was that more people (approximately 1.5 million) turned out for soccer than for any other single sport—even track and field.
That your usually reliable Mr. Taaffe failed to point this out could be attributed to oversight. But, SI, where was your coverage of soccer?
JON D. JOINER
My 4-year-old son and I were watching the PGA tournament on television last weekend when he startled me by asking, "Which ones are the Americans?" When I asked why he was interested, he replied, "Because I only want the Americans to win. I don't want any foreigners to win, only Americans." I hope Roone Arledge gets some inkling of the effect that ABC's coverage of the Olympics had on our country's next generation.
TWO TWO-GOLD DIVERS
I watched the Olympics and I saw Greg Louganis win his two gold medals, but it is remiss that your story (It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Supergreg!, Aug. 20), while referring to him as the first two-gold male since 1928, doesn't mention his distinguished predecessor, Pete Desjardins, of Miami. As you may know, there is an unusual similarity in their careers. Both were silver medalists in their previous Olympic appearances, and both won two gold medals. There is one major difference; in an era of far lower scores, Pete Desjardins was given perfect 10s by each of the five judges for two dives in Olympic competition, and averaged 9.25 for all of his Olympic dives. No diver has ever accomplished that before or since.
There is no doubt that Louganis is worthy of all the praise and admiration for his almost supernatural ability, but unquestionably his predecessor, Pete Desjardins, should receive some of the accolades he so richly deserves.
JOHN C. KERSTEN
Once again I have to hand it to SI. You said the odds of Vern Rapp being fired by the Reds were 4-5 (JUDGMENT CALL, Aug. 13) and within a week he was gone. I'll be sure to watch Del Crandall (2-1), Joe Torre (9-2), and Bill Virdon (6-1) the rest of the season.
New York City
ONE TO REMEMBER
The shortstop for the Cubs during their unusual double play (INSIDE PITCH, Aug. 13) was Dave Owen, not Larry Bowa. Bowa started the game but was removed in the seventh inning for pinch hitter Jay Johnstone.
I enjoyed your recent comments in the OLYMPIC SCORECARD (Aug. 20) on the Australian field hockey team and its outstanding captain, Ric Charlesworth. However, the balding gentleman in the photograph is Trevor Smith, 35, the Aussies' center half-back, not Charley. I think your readers would like to see a photo of the real Ric Charlesworth.
WILLIAM H. BRADBURY III
Field Hockey Team
The real Charlesworth is on the right; Smith, who resembles him, is in the center on the left.
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