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"My emotional control is based on anticipation," she had said. "I think out how I'm going to react, how I'm going to resist extraneous thoughts, how I'm going to deal with somebody coming up and telling me I'm behind or ahead. I prepare for all of this, so the adrenaline doesn't go up and I stop thinking. One or two bad shots, and you're out of it."
The leading shooter in the small-bore three-position competition at that point was U.S. Army Captain Lanny Bassham, a silver medalist in the 1972 Games. He had completed his rounds with a total of 1,160 points. Now he waited patiently for the final scores to be posted.
Bassham's undisputed lead did not last long. Werner Siebold, a West German chef who was shooting at the same time as Murdock, also finished with a score of 1,160 points. That put Murdock in position to pass both men with her last two shots. She waited for a capricious wind to subside, then fired quickly and calmly. Two bull's-eyes. She packed her gear in a blue cardboard suitcase and tranquilly awaited the official announcement of the triumph of her life as a markswoman.
The shooting was over, but not the scoring. Closer scrutiny of the targets resulted in a change in the tabulations, giving Bassham an extra point and, apparently, sole possession of the silver medal. Still later, it was announced that a clerical error had been made—a judge had credited Bassham with a nine when he should have been awarded a 10. He and Murdock had tied for the championship with 1,162 points apiece. The method of breaking a tie in shooting is to compare scores for the last 10 shots. It was found that Bassham had scored 98 on his, Murdock 96 on hers. He would receive the gold, she the silver.
On the victory stand, seconds before the playing of the national anthem, Bassham extended a hand to Murdock on the step below him and helped her to the top. They stood together as The Star-Spangled Banner was played. Said Bassham, "There was no way she deserved to stand lower."
She began life as Richard Raskind, growing up in—of all places—Forest Hills, N.Y. In high school she played end on the football team, swam the backstroke and, as the leading hitter and pitcher on the baseball team, was good enough to attract the notice of professional scouts. But tennis was always her game.
She was a member of the Yale varsity, and after graduating from the University of Rochester Medical School in 1959, she continued playing the game seriously, winning the New York State clay-court championship in 1964. She also had a successful practice as an eye surgeon, and in 1970 she married. She fathered a son. In 1975 a divorced Richard Raskind underwent a sex-change operation in New York and became Renee Richards. With that name the doctor would become famous.
As Renee, she moved to California and, at age 42, began entering women's tournaments. When she won one in La Jolla, a local newscaster looked into her past, during which, he soon discovered, she had been a man. "O.K., now damn it," Richards recalls saying to herself, "they're putting my personal life out in the street. I'm going to pursue every right I possess to prove I'm a woman and a tennis player."
When she insisted on playing in the U.S. Open at Forest Hills, the Women's Tennis Association was pushed into an unprecedented controversy. Does a transsexual have the right to play in a women's tennis tournament? Can a transsexual be considered a woman? Those questions posed a dilemma for the WTA, which had fought so fiercely for equal rights on the courts. The firebrands who had championed the women's cause now were confronted with the aspirations of a new minority, albeit a minute one. Would the revolutionaries turn reactionary?