SI Vault
Kenny Moore
December 09, 1974
In her new role as a coach and crusader for all amateur athletes, Micki exudes the same unsinkable spirit that carried her to an Olympic gold medal off the springboard in Munich
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December 09, 1974

Captain King Keeps 'em Flying

In her new role as a coach and crusader for all amateur athletes, Micki exudes the same unsinkable spirit that carried her to an Olympic gold medal off the springboard in Munich

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King is esteemed by the many athletes who have been thrown into her company on Olympic or Pan American teams. There is a wacky sort of attraction in the splayfooted walk, the quickness of the gray eyes behind the gold-rimmed glasses, along with an adventuresome, imaginative quality that flickers up in the telling of odd bits of history. "In China, Jerry Cooke [SI photographer] used me as a courier for his film of the basketball games," she says. "I got off the plane in Hong Kong and there was this scruffy little man who sidled up to me at the bottom of the ramp.

" 'Captain King,' he said.

" 'Yeah.'

" 'You got it?' "

She closes her eyes and draws up her coat collar, sinking into the role of international spy.

" 'Yeah, I got it.' "

Then, too, she seems an appealing embodiment of justice in sport. Attempting a reverse 1� layout on her next-to-last dive at the Mexico City Olympics, while leading the competition, she hit the board and broke her arm. "It wasn't a bad dive," she says. "My thumbs were locked together as a stabilizer so there was no real break in form. Of course, the last dive was the spastic-looking one." That dropped her to fourth. When she won four years later at Munich, there was a wave of satisfaction from all who remembered signing her cast in Mexico.

It was in Munich as well that King began to feel it possible that athletes, for the first time, could gain some say in the policies of the U.S. Olympic Committee. "I think the beginning was the meeting of athletes to elect the flag bearer for the opening ceremonies," she says. "The USOC extended that courtesy to us, and then found they couldn't back down when we elected Olga Connolly, who wasn't popular with the officials but had terrific respect from the athletes."

Since that pioneering action, King has become one of the chief movers in a series of forays and end arounds aimed at enlightening the oldtime Olympic establishment. She helped organize the Olympics Advisory Council; King and six others are now on the 60-man board of directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The infighting has been fierce and well publicized, punctuated with reports seeking greater voice for the athletes and legislation presented to a somewhat bemused Congress. But King feels the campaign is slowly gaining: "We'll press on. This is just the beginning. I don't believe the USOC knows what's coming once athletes sense they can change things."

Now, sitting by her fireplace in Colorado Springs, she repeated the fundamentals of this amateur sporting manifesto: "The athlete's world is one of constant testing. No one makes an Olympic team without an all-out battle. It's clean and harsh, and if you want to go to the next Olympics you have to do it all over again, against tougher competition. The world of officials, unfortunately, isn't that way at all. Too often theirs is political and social and waiting-your-turn. I know what world I live in. I believe amateur sport is for the athletes. Just who has the most at stake? Answer that and you've answered who should have the most say in how things are run. In professional sports it's harder to do because you've got owners with more or less legitimate interests, but in the Olympic sports you don't. And when you look at the capabilities of our Olympic athletes—there are doctors, lawyers, economists, authors, bankers, television people among us—you just cannot say we ought to continue to swim and run and leave the planning to officials who have drifted away from a competitive world.

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