Rigby: "I don't feel bad."
Marquette: "It's nothing. The one we are thinking about is the Russian, Turishcheva."
"When Cathy came to me in 1963," says Marquette, "she came in shorts and bare feet. She looked just like a ragamuffin. All she could do was cartwheels. In about two months she was better than girls who had been training for two years. She never fooled around. She would have excelled no matter what."
"Cathy finally got over her bouts with pneumonia," says Mrs. Rigby, "and from the age of five she was a healthy child. She was so goldarned active. Always on top of the refrigerator. Even when she fell, she would just climb back up again. There were many times when she cracked her head open, and we were forever rushing her to the emergency room at the hospital. I think she is so fearless because I never believed in giving my children anything to worry about. I never said, 'Don't do that, you'll get hurt.' "
"Absolutely anybody could have made of Cathy what she is today," says Marquette.
If Marquette had to write a composition entitled, "What Gymnastics Means to Me," he would probably start: "Gymnastics is my whole hobby. I also work in my spare time." A little man who likes to describe himself as "rotund," he manages to look amused and worried at the same time. He refuses to reveal his age, but it is about 53. He grew up in Rochester, Pa., a small town near Pittsburgh, in the traditions of German immigrant sects and the local Turners. He considers himself a spiritual descendant of Turnvater Jahn (Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, who revived gymnastics in Germany in 1806 and is known as the father of the sport). Marquette worked in steel mills, taught gymnastics and competed. "I was national champion sometime in the '30s," he says obscurely. In 1956 Marquette was an assistant Olympic women's coach.
When he returned from Melbourne, he stopped in Long Beach to visit friends. There he discovered that people were swimming in the ocean in the middle of winter. Back in Rochester, he surprised his wife Ethel and his three children by announcing, "We're shoveling coal and snow, and they're swimming out there. I'm going!" Ethel objected, but not as much as relatives who. were outraged when the Marquettes sold their 134-year-old house. Now Marquette holds an eight-hour-a-day job as a maintenance supervisor at the Long Beach library. He also coaches every day.
Cathy Rigby joined the Brownies and started ballet lessons when she was eight. One day in 1964 she asked her father to take her to a trampoline class. Paul Rigby had got used to refrigerator climbing and jumping off swings, but he was impressed when he watched Cathy on the trampoline. "On the very first night she was doing backflips!" he says. Not long after, the tumbling coach told him to take her to Marquette.
"Cathy used to aggravate the whole family," says Mrs. Rigby. "When she got into an argument, she would keep repeating back what one said. Her sister Mitchie was much taller, yet, when they had lights, Cathy would always be the last one to hit back.
"She was her grandfather's favorite grandchild. They would go on long walks together. When I wanted to spank her, my father would put his hands over her bottom."