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Listen to four Olympians:
Michel Jazy , 36, of Paris is a flamboyant fellow who tools around in a white Mercedes and dresses in sports clothes he designs himself. He is a publicity man for Perrier mineral water and for Le Coq Sportif and he broadcasts for Radio Luxembourg. He is blond, very handsome and the crowd loved him even though he did not place in the 1,500-meter run in 1956 and won only a silver medal in 1960. Jazy says, "I did not run only for money. No, I would have run without pay. But, yes, I was a professional like everybody else. In America, your professionals go to college for scholarships. In the Eastern countries they are in the military. In Scandinavia they are firemen. Of course, the money I received was not much. If I had been making much, I would not have retired from running at the age of 30."
Don Schollander, 26, a Yale graduate who won five gold medals and a silver in swimming in 1964 and 1968. He is polished, intelligent, a vice-president of a firm that manufactures timing devices and one of the athlete members of the USOC. " Avery Brundage is the last surviving amateur," Schollander says. "I did not have a scholarship at Yale, but I certainly could not qualify as an amateur. I trained far more than the rules allowed. The only sensible thing is to open the Olympics to everyone. You'd have to control it carefully—I mean, you couldn't have a guy win the gold medal for the 100 meters, then step off the platform and say, 'I drink Gilbey's Gin, you all go out and buy it, too.' You couldn't have guys running races in their Sears, Roebuck shirts like some bowling team. But why not have professionals in the Olympics? We've found no viable way of controlling amateurism, so let's stop pretending."
Harold and Olga Connolly were married in 1957, he a schoolteacher from Boston, she the daughter of factory workers from Libish, near Prague. They had met at the Melbourne Olympics where each won a gold medal, and they wooed and won each other in an East-West romance that made headlines throughout the world.
Although Harold is 40 and Olga 39 and they have four children, the Connollys were in training last summer for yet another Games, their fifth—he to throw the hammer, she the discus. It was not easy. They are naught but a schoolteacher and his wife, struggling with almost painful good cheer through these lean years as he works for his master's.
Sitting in the living room of their rented bungalow in Culver City, Calif. last July, Olga said, "We love the Games and we are trying to go once more because we have so many friends, not for medals. We are so at home there. We want to go and help others break the ice so they can become friends."
The Connollys were going out for dinner, but Hal wolfed down two hot dogs, then said, "Sorry, but I'm trying to put on 40 pounds. I compete best when I'm around 250. Either I gain it or we don't go. We made a promise to each other that if one doesn't make the team, the other won't go. If we both make it, the kids are going with us—somehow." (As it turned out, only Olga made the team and the promise was amended. "She deserves to go," said Hal, who will take the kids camping while his wife is throwing the discus in Munich.)
Later, in a Beverly Hills restaurant, Olga looked around admiringly. "This is our first dinner out in 15 months," she said. "We have to save our money to keep training." Over great slabs of prime rib, they talked about the paradox of amateurism. They related how they had written an article for the Associated Press entitled "Why Amateurism Is Dead in the Olympics." When they received a check, they donated the money to a Mexican orphanage because they wanted to protect their status as, well, amateurs.
Hal: I wouldn't want to be paid for my athletics. If you were paid they'd ship you around like so much cattle. But I'm not against some sort of subsidization.
Olga: Government subsidy would be a good thing. It's anathema to the USOC, but its whole attitude toward athletes is so foolish and so insulting that this is only one facet of its wrong thinking.