Writer-reporter Bruce Anderson has been on the run, literally. In June, as part of a hands-across-the-sea arrangement between The Korea Times and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Anderson took up residence in Seoul. Since then he has been performing triple duty, filing dispatches on Olympic preparations to SI while contributing a weekly column—puckishly named Seouliloquy—to the Times, an English-language paper. He also has edited some five dozen features that will appear this month in The Seoul Olympian, the official daily newspaper of the Summer Games, which is being produced by the Times.
In July, Anderson became more than an observer of the Olympic scene. He was one of 30 foreign journalists chosen to participate in South Korea's torch relay by carrying the Olympic flame on a one-kilometer segment of its three-week, 2,584-mile journey from Cheju Island, the southernmost part of Korea, to the Olympic Stadium in Seoul.
"I was nonchalant at first," Anderson says. "Carry a torch for half a mile or so, no big deal. But when the flame arrived from Greece, I learned that to many people in Korea it was a very big deal indeed. The arrival on August 27 was carried on national television. I watched in the Times newsroom with colleagues who regarded it solemnly. The ceremony on Cheju was a spectacle of dancers, musicians, and soaring doves. I began to wonder what I had gotten into."
Not that he wasn't fit for the task. As running goes, and even as Olympic torch relays go, Anderson is a veteran. In high school in the mid-1970s, he competed in cross-country for the Hollister ( Calif.) Haybalers, and he hasn't been far out of shape since. In 1984, when his uncle Frank carried the L.A. Olympic torch through Sausalito, Calif., Anderson jogged alongside him.
As he waited for the flame in Taejon, two hours from Seoul, Anderson, wearing a special torch-bearer's uniform, found himself a celebrity. "Children wanted my autograph," he says. "People cheered me. Then the runner carrying the flame approached. I yelled 'Chwa-U-Yang-U,' which means something like 'turn and face your partner.' We touched our torches high, his lighting mine, and then I was off, along with my 16 official escorts. Spectators were lining the rice fields on the outskirts of town. I was so excited, I gave them the thumbs-up sign. The experience lasted only five minutes, but it was five minutes I'll remember forever."