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Original Issue


For the 17 days of the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Sports
Illustrated senior writer Richard Hoffer carried a slim notebook
around in his back pocket. Inside the front cover he compiled a
list, scribbling a new entry each day, that formed the skeleton
of this special Olympic commemorative issue: Day 1, Opening
Ceremonies; Day 2, Dream Team; Day 3, Tom Dolan.... Each day he
picked a person or event on which to focus his attention.

"I was basically set loose to write whatever struck me," Hoffer
says, "and I was lucky in that the events I went to turned out
to be great. I went to weightlifting one day and suddenly I'm
watching this really dramatic duel [Day 4]. And the 100 meters
[Day 9], with Linford Christie sulking off, was more than I
bargained for."

The end result is a collection of 18 pieces, all written by
Hoffer--a kind of diary of the '96 Games, grandly illuminated
with pictures taken almost exclusively by the 17 SI
photographers on assignment in Atlanta. When this commemorative
project was first discussed, it was decided that Hoffer, who had
covered the Games in Los Angeles and in Seoul for the Los
Angeles Times before joining SI in 1989, was the ideal choice to
take on such an Olympian task. "We wanted an issue that would be
thoughtful and reflective," says SI assistant managing editor
David Bauer. "Besides being a great writer and reporter, Rick is
a fine essayist. He's so adept with language that he's able to
capture a lot in few words. And that's what we needed here."

Rarely do we ask Hoffer to stop after just a few words; in fact,
he says one of the toughest parts of this assignment was paring
down his observations to the required length. An even trickier
aspect was "explaining to people what I was doing all this time
in Atlanta. Because nothing I wrote was going to show up until
the end."

We think you'll agree it was worth the wait.

COLOR PHOTO: TOM LYNN Hoffer ran his own 17-day marathon. [Richard Hoffer]