"I am facing perhaps one of the greatest trials in my life, a test of my character and fortitude. I am expecting nothing from Tokyo itself; it is just the place where the Games are being held. They could be held in Timbuktu, I'd feel the same. In dear old England a lot of athletes have thought their main task is getting on the team. That is only the preliminary and secondary factor."
Hans-Joachim Klein is 22, a student of industrial engineering at Darmstadt in West Germany. He is a contender for a swimming medal at 100 meters. He lives alone in a small room on the second floor of a modern house on Heinrichstrasse, with his tape recorder, typewriter, medals, cups, plaques, souvenirs. He is the son of a prosperous state judge, and likes the theater and the opera, jazz and the twist ("for training purposes"). He is the stereotype of the clean-cut college youth, short-cut hair blonder than blond falling over a high forehead, eyes clear blue, strong chin, easy smile.
Hans Klein says that swimming is not the center of his life. "If it were," he says, "I'd be bored to death. Most of my friends aren't swimmers." He has no car; the girls drive him. He has no use for the military (" Germany is just too small today"). He spent a year at the University of Southern California training, and admits that he did not—and has not and will not—kill himself in the practice pool. "I just swim." He thinks the rigorous American training routine burns out U.S. swimmers fast. "They last only two or three years, then they go psychologically stale." Klein competed at Rome in 1960, but says he was too bedazzled to do anything—he was 10th in the 400-meter freestyle.
"The fact that I am representing Germany is not particularly important to me. In a way, it's sort of ridiculous. I feel it's competition between individuals and I don't feel any burning patriotism. It's the sense of personal satisfaction that is important, not giving all for the state. I have sacrificed nothing for the Olympics. If I did win, it would probably mean some very good connections later here in Germany. But this does not mean much to me. The big satisfaction is simply swimming."
Ludvik Danek is 27 years old, a Czechoslovakian who does not talk politics because in his country it is not polite, and it might also get you tossed into the jug. On August 2, in the small Bohemian town of Turnov, Danek produced an international thunderbolt—he threw the discus 211 feet 9� inches to beat Al Oerter's world record by almost six feet. One of the world press agencies reported the terrain there was sloped, but that was not true. Since then Danek has been consistently near that record, and now he is going to Japan to see if he can beat the American Oerter face to face.
"Olympics—for me they mean competition with Oerter," he says. "I respect this adversary. I have been reading all about him, all I can lay my hands on. The last thing I heard, his ancestors on his mother's side originally came from Czechoslovakia. That is nice. But I suppose it is nothing special because every American's ancestors came from Europe originally."
Danek was born in the village of Blansko in Moravia and has never strayed so far away that he cannot motorbike home to visit his-mother two or three times a week. Once he had an accident on his motorbike, the year he returned from the army, and the doctor looked at his torn kidney and said he would never throw the discus again. Danek did not listen. "I could not," he said, "stop being a sportsman at age 22. I started training, but really hard. Lifting weights of 150 kilos every day left blue marks on my neck. I lived like a recluse. I felt that I had to prove what man can do if he has the will to do it."
Danek works in a factory, turning a lathe. This summer he packed his wife on the back of his motorbike and toured the mountains and valleys of Slovakia. "To see Japan, to see Tokyo, the largest city of the world, that, for a small man of a small country in Europe, can only be a dream," he said. "Especially if this man is a common worker and not a businessman, a journalist, a diplomat. I wish—I wish the discus throw was on the first day of the Olympics, and that I had a chance to see Tokyo afterward. I am not very young anymore, and these arc my first but quite likely also my last Olympic Games."
Henry Da Sousa is 43 years old, a small man, born of Portuguese and Chinese parents from Macao—and of a type you notice on the street only if he has missed the litter basket. He is a civil servant in Hong Kong, and one of its leading sportsmen, though Hong Kong probably does not know it.
He did not demonstrate a facility for shooting a rifle as a member of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defense Corps in 1937, so Henry Da Sousa wound up, not unhappily, as a range tinder for six-inchers in the navy coastal defense. He was captured by the Japanese in 1941, and spent four years in a makeshift POW camp in Kowloon before being shipped to Japan to work in a coal mine. In 1951 Henry's brother lent him money to purchase his first rifle, a .22 caliber bolt-action Remington. Da Sousa was then employed as a clerk in an electrical firm, which earned him enough for his food but kept his ammunition not only dry but unpurchased.