"But God says
unless you have a strong nation, a strong military and all the people
supporting it, you'll fall. Once liberalism and pacifism have crept in, a
nation is doomed. The Greeks fell because of it. The Romans. But the best
example is right in the Bible. When the Israelites were forced into captivity,
they united in their beliefs and became strong enough to throw off their
oppressors. But when they had lived in freedom for a while, they started to
listen to the liberals. They sought peace, they neglected their military, and
they got thrown back into slavery.
Germany now. How many of the kids on this team do you think understand what
went on here in World War II? We fought so hard to put an end to tyranny and
oppression, so our children would never know them, so they could be free, and
now some of those children, part of a whole generation without discipline, want
to burn our country. That's animalism. That's anarchy. We live in the greatest,
most powerful country in the world. Why can't they see that?"
Russell Knipp, on
the morning I spoke with him, was unquestionably sincere, caring only to be
understood, unperturbed at my reluctance to agree with everything he said. His
reason for being at the Games, his sport, his work, all unite into a life
devoted to strength, to the power and the glory.
I meant to talk
with him again, because as we parted he gave me a book. The first words which
caught my eye were "God despises little babies." And I had more
questions still later, when war entered the Olympics.
With five miles
to go, a cramp shot up my right hamstring. Wolde passed immediately and looked
around. He watched me hobble, clutching the back of my thigh for a couple of
steps. Then he turned and ran on.
As I slowed the
cramp eased. I couldn't risk a second attack. I had to accelerate carefully, if
possible, to just below my previous pace. Wolde quickly had 100 yards. Then
Lismont, the European champion, the man in white we had seen behind us entering
the park, stormed past, running with his head down and a powerful arm action. I
had visions of myself in the coming miles, a crawling, agonized figure, being
passed at the end by wealthy Argentines. But then, mercifully, the park ended
and I got back on level streets. I found a rhythm and began to move again.
There was no reason to look back. The last medal was disappearing ahead of
For a period of
two days before the Games, every American athlete faced the decision of whether
or not to compete. On Aug. 19 black U.S. trackmen withdrew from a meet at
Kempten, 60 miles from Munich, rather than go on the field with the Rhodesian
team. Late that night and again the next morning the entire track team held
meetings, in which it was established that the blacks were united in their
decision and that many whites, out of conscience or brotherhood, would back
them. Coach Bowerman said, "By admitting Rhodesia to the Games under the
flag of Great Britain, when Rhodesia has severed all ties with Britain over the
issue of white supremacy, the IOC has committed a political subterfuge. If any
of our athletes feel they cannot in good conscience compete against Rhodesians,
I'll support them all the way."
urging the IOC to expel Rhodesia was given USOC President Clifford Buck to
deliver. It was by no means sure Buck would even be heard. "I know the
temper of these aristocrats," said Tokyo Olympic Coach Bob Giegengack.
"They will lock the door if they think they are going to be
We cast about for
other ways to avoid a boycott. "Can't we just ask the Rhodesians to
leave?" said Walk Coach Bruce MacDonald. "If enough countries told them
they weren't welcome, wouldn't they go?"
"If they were
that rational," said Frank Shorter, "they wouldn't have