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A Decline In The Gold Standard
Robert Sullivan
May 21, 1984
If you don't think boycotts ruin Olympic competitions, then you haven't heard about the 1980 Zimbabwe women's field hockey team. When the Carter boycott siphoned off five of the six teams scheduled to compete in Moscow, four of the vacant slots were filled by Czechoslovakia, India, Australia and Poland—all of which had earlier been eliminated in qualifying rounds. Desperate to avoid the embarrassment of an incomplete field, the Soviets offered to subsidize a trip to the Games for any team Zimbabwe, which hadn't become eligible for the Olympics until after the field hockey qualifying, could produce. That pickup squad, chosen a few weeks before the opening ceremonies, won the gold medal. At halftime of the final, Zimbabwe's minister of sport rushed on the field and promised that if the team won, each player would get an ox. They, in fact, never got their oxen, but they nonetheless provided us with a new concept in awards: The Order of the Zimbabwean Ox.
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May 21, 1984

A Decline In The Gold Standard

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A FOREDOOMED FORECAST OF FINISHES IN SWIMMING AND TRACK & FIELD
According to Anita Verschoth's early line, Communist bloc athletes would have been among the ones to beat in the following swimming and track and field events:
ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES [Red Strip]
ATHLETE'S COUNTRY EXPECTED TO BE OUT OF GAMES [Green Strip]

TRACK & FIELD (WOMEN)
100 METERS
MARLIES GÖHR (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
EVELYN ASHFORD (U.S.A.)
MERLENE OTTEY (Jamaica)

Göhr ran a world record 10.81 at sea level and won the world championship at Helsinki as Ashford pulled up lame.

200
EVELYN ASHFORD (U.S.A.)
BÄRBEL WÖCKEL (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
MERLENE OTTEY (Jamaica)

Wöckel won gold in '76 and '80, but Ashford is fully recovered and could break the world record of 21.71.

4 x 100 RELAY
EAST GERMANY [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
UNITED STATES
GREAT BRITAIN

Olympic champions in '76 and '80, the E. Germans won last year in Helsinki and hold the world record of 41.53.

400
MARITA KOCH (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
TATIANA KOCEMBOVA (Czech.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
MARIA PINIGINA (U.S.S.R) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Koch has set nine world records at 200 and 400 meters. The new favorite is W. Germany's Gaby Bussmann.

4 x 400 RELAY
EAST GERMANY [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
CZECHOSLOVAKIA [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
U.S.S.R [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

The E. Germans, anchored by Koch, hold the world record of 3:19.04 and won at Helsinki. The new favorite is the U.S.

800
J. KRATOCHVILOVA (Czech.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
LYUBOV GURIA (U.S.S.R) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
Y. PODKOPAYEVA (U.S.S.R) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Kratochvilova is the world-record holder at 400 and 800. Mary Decker of the U.S. could try for the first of three golds.

1,500
MARY DECKER (U.S.A.)
N. RALDUGINA (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
ZAMIRA ZATYSEVA (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Zaytseva lost one race last season, to Decker in Helsinki. Raldugina looked very sharp in the indoor season.

3,000
MARY DECKER (U.S.A.)
TATYANA KAZANKINA (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
S. ULMASOVA (U.S.S.R) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Kazankina, 32, had the fastest time in '83, but Decker beat her with an 8:34.62 clocking at the world championships.

100 HURDLES
LUCYNA KALCK (Poland)[ATHLETE'S COUNTRY EXPECTED TO BE OUT OF GAMES]
BETTINE JAHN (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
KERSTIN KNABE (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Kalek had an off year in '83 but came back indoors. The new favorite is Stephanie Hightower of the U.S.

400 HURDLES
ANNA AMBRAZIENE (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
Y. FESENKO (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
PETRA PFAFF (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Ambraziene holds the world record but lost to Fesenko at Helsinki. Now favored is Sweden's Ann-Louise Skoglund.

HIGH JUMP
TAMARA BYKOVA (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
ULRIKE MEYFARTH (W. Ger.)
LOUISE RITTER (U.S.A.)

Bykova set two world records last year to Meyfarth's one; her 6'7" also beat Meyfarth at the world championships.

LONG JUMP
HEIKE DAUTE (E. Ger.)[ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
ANISOARA CUSMIR (Rumania)
CAROL LEWIS (U.S.A.)

Cusmir had a world record 24' 4½" last year, but Helsinki champ Daute was undefeated in eight outdoor meets.

SHOTPUT
ILONA BRIESENICK (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
HELENA FIBINGEROVA (Czech.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
NUNU ABASHIDZE (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Briesenick (the former Slu-pianek) has dominated since '77. The new favorite is Claudia Losch of W. Germany.

DISCUS
T. KHRISTOVA (Bulgaria) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
MARTINA OPITZ (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
MARIA VERGOVA (Bulgaria)

Khristova was a sensation in '82 and Opitz was the '83 world champ. Now there's no clear favorite.

HEPTATHLON
RAMONA NEUBERT (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
SABINE PAETZ (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
ANKE VATER (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Neubert just lost her world record to Paetz but should get it back. Now favored is W. Germany's Sabine Everts.

TRACK & FIELD (MEN) 4 x 100 RELAY
UNITED STATES
EAST GERMANY [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
ITALY

E. Germany ranked ahead of Italy and the U.S.S.R. in '83 and second only to the U.S. world-record-setting team.

4 x 400 RELAY
UNITED STATES
WEST GERMANY
U.S.S.R [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

The U.S.S.R., anchored by Viktor Markin, is Olympic and world champ. Edwin Moses might anchor the U.S.

5,000
EAMONN COGHLAN (Ireland)
WERNER SCHILDHAUER (E. Ger.)[ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
DMITRI DMITRIYEV (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Schildhauer was second to Coghlan at Helsinki. E. German HansjOrg Kunze had an outside medal shot in L.A.

10,000
ALBERTO COVA (Italy)
WERNER SCHILDHAUER (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
MARTTI VAINIO (Finland)

Cova won the world championship, but Schildhauer was faster in 1983. Kunze was a strong dark horse here too.

MARATHON
WALDEMAR CICRPINSKI (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
ROB DE CASTELLA (Australia)
TOSHIHIKO SEKO (Japan)

Cierpinski, who peaks in Olympic years, would have had the added incentive of going for an unprecedented third gold.

STEEPLECHASE
HENRY MARSH (U.S.A.)
PATRIZ ILG (W. Ger.)
BOGUSLAW MAMINSKI (Poland) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Maminski, second to llg at the world championships, clocked the second-fastest time last year to Marsh's 8:12.37.

20 KM WALK
ERNESTO CANTO (Mexico)
JOZEF PRIDILINEC (Czech.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
Y. YEVSYUKOV (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Pribilinec was No. 1, but Canto just broke the world record. Mexico's walkers will have a lot of support in L.A.

50 KM WALK
RAUL GONZALES (Mexico)
RONALD WEIGEL (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
JOSÉ MARIN (Spain)

Weigel, the gold medalist at the world championships, is ranked No. 1, but Gonzales still holds the world record.

HIGH JUMP
ZHU JIANHUA (China)
CARLO THRÄNHARDT (W. Ger.)
IGOR PAKLIN (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Paklin set the 7'8¾" indoor mark before Thränhardt broke it with a 7'9¼". Jianhua's world outdoor record: 7'9¾".

TRIPLE JUMP
ZDZISLAW HOFFMAN (Poland) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY EXPECTED TO BE OUT OF GAMES
WILLIE BANKS (U.S.A.)
KEITH CONNOR (G. Britain)

Hoffman suddenly rose to prominence last year, winning at the world championships with a mark of 57'2".

POLE VAULT
SERGEI BUBKA (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
THIERRY VIGNERON (France)
KONSTANTIN VOLKOV (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Bubka was the favorite based on his convincing victory at Helsinki and his recent indoor world record of 19'1½".

SHOTPUT
UDO BEYER (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
EDWARD SARUL (Poland) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY EXPECTED TO BE OUT OF GAMES]
DAVE LAUT (U.S.A.)

Beyer set a world record of 72'10¾" at L.A. last summer but an injury impaired his performance at Helsinki.

DISCUS
IMRICH BÚGAR (Czech.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
LUIS DELIS (Cuba) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY EXPECTED TO BE OUT OF GAMES]
GEZA VALENT (Czech.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Búgar, No. 1 at Helsinki, was beaten twice by Delis in '83 The new favorite is John Powell of the U.S.

HAMMER
YURI SEDYKH (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
SERGEI LITVINOV (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
ZDZISLAW KWASNY (Poland) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY EXPECTED TO BE OUT OF GAME)

Litvinov holds the world record, but Sedykh won gold in '76 and '80. The new favorite is Juha Tiainen of Finland.

JAVELIN
DETLEF MICHEL (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
TOM PETRANOFF (U.S.A.)
DAINIS KULA (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Michel beat world-record holder Petranoff at Helsinki; he has also equaled the second-best throw in history.

DECATHLON
DALEY THOMPSON (G. Britain)
JÜRGEN HINGSEN (W.Ger.)
GRIGORI DEGTYAROV (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Degtyarov, one of three de-cathletes from the U.S.S.R. ranked in the top 10, had a best of 8,538 points last year.

SWIMMING (WOMEN)
100-METER FREESTYLE
BIRGIT MEINEKE (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
KRISTIN OTTO (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
CARRIE STEINSEIFER (U.S.A.)

World and European champion Meineke hasn't lost a race in two years. Otto is No. 1 now, but Meineke is tougher.

200 FREESTYLE
BIRGIT MEINEKE (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
KRISTIN OTTO (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
CYNTHIA WOODHEAD (U.S.A.)

Same as in the 100. World champ Annemarie Verstappen of Holland now will challenge Woodhead for the gold.

400 FREESTYLE
ASTRID STRAUSS (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
TIFFANY COHEN (U.S.A.)
MARYBETH LINZMEIER (U.S.A.)

It was a toss-up: Strauss was ranked No. 1 in '83, but her best time was only .02 faster than Cohen's.

800 FREESTYLE
ASTRID STRAUSS (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
TIFFANY COHEN (U.S.A.)
KIM LINEHAN (U.S.A.)

Cohen is ranked No. 1, but Strauss beat her over 400,800 and 1,500 meters last January in Austin, Texas.

100 BREASTSTROKE
UTE GEWENIGER (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
HIROKO NAGASAKI (Japan)
JEANNE CHILDS (U.S.A.)

Olympic, world and European champ Geweniger holds the world record. Nagasaki was undefeated last season.

200 BREASTSTROKE
UTE GEWENIGER (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
HIROKO NAGASAKI (Japan)
ELENA VOLKOVA (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

'81 and '83 European champion Geweniger's experience would've been the key against Nagasaki and Volkova.

100 BUTTERFLY
MARY T. MEAGHER (U.S.A.)
JENNA JOHNSON (U.S.A.)
INES GEISSLER (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Geissler won a silver medal at the '82 world championships in Guayaquil, but is better suited for the 200 fly.

200 BUTTERFLY
MARY T. MEAGHER (U.S.A.)
CORNELIA POLIT (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
INES GEISSLER (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

World champ Geissler was the best E. German until Polit, who had been a backstroker, set a European record last year.

100 BACKSTROKE
KRISTIN OTTO (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
INA KLEBER (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
SUE WALSH (U.S.A.)

World champ Otto has the second-fastest time in history to retired Olympic champ Rica Reinisch of E. Germany.

200 BACKSTROKE
CORNELIA SIRCH (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
KATHRIN ZIMMERMAN (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
SUE WALSH (U.S.A.)

World-record holder Sirch is also the world and European champion. She's 1.45 seconds faster than Zimmerman.

200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
UTE GEWENIGER (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
TRACY CAULKINS (U.S.A.)
KATHLEEN NORD (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Again Geweniger, silver medalist in the '82 worlds, was favored, although Caulkins has beaten her and Nord.

400 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
KATHLEEN NORD (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
TRACY CAULKINS (U.S.A.)
CHANNON HERMSTAD (U.S.A.)

Nord is the European champion and fast becoming the best. She lost to Caulkins in this event at Austin.

4 x 100 FREESTYLE RELAY
EAST GERMANY [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
UNITED STATES
THE NETHERLANDS

E. Germany's Meineke and Otto are the best; Strauss and Susanne Link would've completed a great team.

4 x 100 MEDLEY RELAY
EAST GERMANY [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
UNITED STATES
THE NETHERLANDS

E. German women are again the fastest; the team of Otto-Geweniger-Geissler-Meineke would have been unbeatable.

SWIMMING (MEN)
100 FREESTYLE
ROWDY GAINES (U.S.A.)
JÖRG WOITHE (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
PER JOHANSSON (Sweden)

Defending Olympic and world champion Woithe wasn't the choice for gold because he lost to Johansson last year.

200 FREESTYLE
MICHAEL GROSS (W. Ger.)
ROWDY GAINES (U.S.A.)
SVEN LODZIEWSKI (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Lodziewski improved his best time by an impressive 2.76 last year and was the second-fastest behind Gross.

400 FREESTYLE
VLADIMIR SALNIKOV (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
S. SEMENOV (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
SVEN LODZIEWSKI (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Salnikov (page 72), the '80 Olympic champ, holds the world record. Now George Di-Carlo of the U.S. is favored.

1,500 FREESTYLE
VLADIMIR SALNIKOV (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
S. SEMENOV (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
JEFF KOSTOFF (U.S.A.)

No active swimmer has come within 10 seconds of Salni-kov's world record. He is defending Olympic champ.

100 BREASTSTROKE
STEVE LUNDQUIST (U.S.A.)
JOHN MOFFET (U.S.A.)
DMITRI VOLKOV (U.S.S.R) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

Volkov is getting faster and faster. Ranked third in the world last year, he set a European record in February '84.

200 BREASTSTROKE
VICTOR DAVIS (Canada)
ROBERTAS ZHULPA (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
STEVE LUNDQUIST (U.S.A.)

A gold medalist at the '80 Games and silver medalist at the '82 worlds, Zhulpa has the fastest time this year.

100 BACKSTROKE
RICK CAREY (U.S.A.)
DIRK RICHTER (E. Ger.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
BENGT BARON (Sweden)

Richter, a super sprinter, beat world-record holder Carey at the '82 worlds and is now his primary challenger.

200 BACKSTROKE
RICK CAREY (U.S.A.)
S. ZABOLOTNOV (U.S.S.R.) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
SANDOR WLADAR (Hungary) [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY EXPECTED TO BE OUT OF GAMES]

Zabolotnov won in L.A. and at the European championships in '83; he has bettered his European record in '84.

4 x 100 FREESTYLE RELAY
UNITED STATES
U.S.S.R. [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
SWEDEN

The U.S.S.R. might have used the team that won a silver at the '82 worlds: Krasiuk, Filonov, Smiriagin, Markovski.

4 x 200 FREESTYLE RELAY
UNITED STATES
WEST GERMANY
U.S.S.R [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]

The U.S.S.R. would have been good for a bronze with the same team that took second in Guayaquil and had Salnikov.

4 x 100 MEDLEY RELAY
UNITED STATES
U.S.S.R. [ATHLETE'S COUNTRY OUT OF GAMES]
WEST GERMANY

Again the U.S.S.R. might have repeated with the team that got the silver in '82 and included breaststroker Volkov.

If you don't think boycotts ruin Olympic competitions, then you haven't heard about the 1980 Zimbabwe women's field hockey team. When the Carter boycott siphoned off five of the six teams scheduled to compete in Moscow, four of the vacant slots were filled by Czechoslovakia, India, Australia and Poland—all of which had earlier been eliminated in qualifying rounds. Desperate to avoid the embarrassment of an incomplete field, the Soviets offered to subsidize a trip to the Games for any team Zimbabwe, which hadn't become eligible for the Olympics until after the field hockey qualifying, could produce. That pickup squad, chosen a few weeks before the opening ceremonies, won the gold medal. At halftime of the final, Zimbabwe's minister of sport rushed on the field and promised that if the team won, each player would get an ox. They, in fact, never got their oxen, but they nonetheless provided us with a new concept in awards: The Order of the Zimbabwean Ox.

The Soviet-led boycott will so deplete a number of competitions in L.A. that The Order could well be bestowed many times over this summer. Take weightlifting. That sport's 10 world records in the total are held by six Soviets, three Bulgarians and one East German, none of whom will be in L.A. The Eastern bloc similarly dominates canoeing, rowing and modern pentathlon. Of the powers in men's and women's team handball, only Yugoslavia remains.

The boycott will damage other sports but slightly. No one will notice the Soviet absence in equestrian events or in women's volleyball, although without the U.S.S.R., Poland and Cuba on hand, the Japanese men's volleyball team will have only the U.S. to contend with. East Germany and the U.S.S.R. have been catching up to the powers that be in archery, yachting, shooting (in which they win the pistol events) and judo, but while those competitions will be diminished, the U.S. remains dominant in the first three and Japan in the last.

The boycott will wreak havoc upon some sports that figured to be truly competitive. Before 1980 the U.S.S.R. was the only nation to crack the U.S. men's basketball monopoly, winning in 1972, and the Soviet women won in 1976 and '80. The men's tournament won't be spoiled by the boycott, because Italy, Spain and Yugoslavia, the '80 champion, are as good as the Soviets, but without the U.S.S.R., Cuba and Bulgaria, the U.S. women should easily win the gold.

"The Soviets don't have any current world champs in boxing, so the quality of the competition won't be ruined," says Leslie King of the U.S. Boxing Federation. Ask her about Cuba, though, and she gets nervous. Last year five world champions were from the U.S., five from Cuba and two from Canada. The U.S.S.R.'s Serik Konakbayev could have given Mark Breland of the U.S. a good scrap at 147 pounds, however. American super heavyweight world champion Tyrell Biggs will still have his hands full with Italy's Francesco Damiani, but it would have been fun to see old Teofilo Stevenson fight for his fourth straight gold medal. If, as expected, Cuba pulls out of the L.A. Games, U.S. boxers will beat up the world.

In fencing, Carla Mae Richards, executive director of the U.S. association, admits, "We're a very dark horse. Italy's women are quite strong, as strong as anybody. The Soviet and Bulgarian men are among the best; they regularly make the finals." In fact, at last summer's world championships, Soviet and Bulgarian men between them took home three of six gold medals.

The U.S.S.R. or other East European countries have won all the football—soccer—golds and 20 of 24 medals in that sport since 1952. Without Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and the U.S.S.R., football will lose its kick, but Yugoslavia should keep the Continent's medal string intact.

Women's gymnastics suffers gravely: At last year's world championships, the U.S.S.R.'s Natalia Yurtchenko won the overall title and Olga Mostepanova the balance beam, while a Bulgarian, Boriana Stoyanova, won the vault and an East German, Maxi Gnauck, the uneven parallel bars. In men's gymnastics, the biggest loss is Dmitri Belozertchev of the U.S.S.R., who won three golds and one silver in the world championships.

On Aug. 1 the sixth-seeded U.S. water polo team was scheduled to meet the top-seeded U.S.S.R. in the Olympic tournament's first round. "We were psyched," says Burt Shaw, chairman of the U.S. men's International/Olympic Water Polo Committee. "We could have upset them. They would like to play us less than any other team because we're pretty inconsistent. They wouldn't know what to expect." That inconsistency likely will keep the U.S. from winning a gold medal, which should now go to either West Germany, Holland or Yugoslavia.

Greco-Roman wrestling becomes a sham without the U.S.S.R. and Bulgaria, which have won more than half the event's gold medals in the last eight Games. The freestyle, says Greg Strobel of U.S.A. Wrestling, "figured to be a dual meet: the Russians and us. There would have been some medals going to other countries, but not many. This was going to be our big year." Since the Soviets first participated in Olympic freestyle wrestling in 1952, they've won six of eight team titles. At L.A., the U.S.S.R., led by the world's premier wrestler, 125½-pound Sergei Beloglazov, figured to win five of the 10 golds, the U.S. three to five. It looked to be such a great meet that the U.S. team refuses to believe it won't happen. "It's a crock," says 163-pound world champion Dave Shultz of Palo Alto, Calif. Will the U.S. coast if the boycott turns the Olympics into what Shultz calls "a glorified Pan Am Games"? Says coach Dan Gable, "I might as well send my mother out to coach."

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