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Olympic SCORECARD
Frank Deford
August 20, 1984
After Carl Lewis won his third and last individual gold medal, in the 200 meters, the first thing he said was, "I'm really glad to get all of this over." Edwin Moses had won 90 finals in a row, but he offered the same sentiment after his Olympic triumph in the intermediate hurdles. Throughout the Olympics, from many other athletes, this expression of relief was the one we heard again and again. How sad that is.
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August 20, 1984

Olympic Scorecard

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1. Romania

15.35

2. Kenya

11.77

3. New Zealand

11.67

4. South Korea

7.55

5. Yugoslavia

5.00

6. Finland

4.80

7. Morocco

3.34

8. Canada

3.25

9. Sweden

2.72

10. Australia

2.69

11. Portugal

2.50

12. U.S.A.

2.02

After Carl Lewis won his third and last individual gold medal, in the 200 meters, the first thing he said was, "I'm really glad to get all of this over." Edwin Moses had won 90 finals in a row, but he offered the same sentiment after his Olympic triumph in the intermediate hurdles. Throughout the Olympics, from many other athletes, this expression of relief was the one we heard again and again. How sad that is.

The Olympics should be the acme of an athlete's career—the competition his greatest challenge, the victory his greatest moment of exultation—and yet repeatedly the most notable Olympians, the winners, found more consolation in the completion of the task than joy in the achievement. I don't recall these agonizing confessions of relief forming on the lips of Seve Ballesteros or Martina Navratilova or a single member of the Baltimore Orioles in their moments of glory. There must be such excruciating, unnatural pressure thrust upon the Olympic performers, who can only be redeemed of defeat after waiting another four long years.

It's fashionable to declare that the Olympics have grown too big, but Los Angeles swallowed them up as if they were just a Kiwanis convention, and television packaged them quite neatly as a spectacle for the watching world. However, what the Games are for the Olympians, who have so few years of their own prime time, is this: They're too far apart. Every four years? This isn't ancient Greece, joined by footpaths.

Let some benefit come out of the tragedy of Zola Budd and Mary Decker, who are forever bound together in 1984 because the one had to be rushed to battle and the other's time may have passed by the next Games, in Seoul. For Budd and Decker, for all athletes, it would be both fairer and in consonance with a modern world if Olympic medals were awarded every year or two during the various and separate world championships. Then, as always, all of the championships would take place at a common location every fourth year.

I was surprised to discover that Olympic athletes don't cool off like the rest of us. Instead, they warm down.

At the opening ceremony, Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee president Peter V. Ueberroth hailed the Olympic athletes, a genial collection of javelin chuckers and pugilists, as "the best hope for the future of mankind." That's the sort of benign posturing we've come to expect on such occasions. On the other hand, there's Ric Charlesworth, 31, of Australia.

Charlesworth is generally acknowledged to be the best field hockey player in the world, and since 1977 he has been the captain of his national team. For many years he was also a leading batsman for the West Australian cricket team. That meant he played high-level hockey and cricket for eight months a year, while at the same time attending medical school. He's now Dr. Richard Charlesworth, though he has put aside that profession to become an elected Member of Parliament. Altogether, as you can see, he makes Senator Bill Bradley look like something of a layabout.

For all that, Richard Charlesworth, M.D., M.P., is a very human chap. He's going bald fast. He has a terrible temper, which makes him the bane of referees; he's known variously as a poor man's McEnroe or, simply, Grumpy. He played in his first Olympics at 19 in Munich, and now, surely, this would be his last, a triumphant finale. The Aussies had an old team, with an average age of 28. It had been together for years and had won 34 international matches in a row. As undisputed favorites for the gold, the Aussies had given up five months of paychecks and time with their families to prepare for Los Angeles. There was something terribly old-fashioned about it all. On the one hand, Charlesworth and his mates were as dedicated to the quest as any athlete in any sport who might gain a fortune from his attainments in the Games, and yet Charlesworth used these two quaint words to describe his hockey: "release" and "recreation."

No athlete in the Games had matters more properly in perspective. "To me, this is just another hockey tournament, which happens to coincide with the Olympics," Charlesworth said. He wasn't going to gild any lilies; he can't abide the politicians of either party back home—he's a Labor member—who rise in the House of Representatives to speak for headlines when the real work is being quietly done in committee. "The Olympics are just special now because of all the media hype," he said. "And they make too many people very nationalistic. All that talk of brotherhood: Why, we've known our competitors for years, meeting them in other hockey tournaments. And the anger and spite you saw in our game today—it's hard to square that with the ideals, isn't it?"

He grinned sardonically under his sun hat. He was watching West Germany beat Great Britain 1-0 in the second semifinal. Dr. Charlesworth had been a little late getting out after his own game, against Pakistan, because he'd had to help stitch up an injured teammate, Craig Davies. You can't be substituted for in field hockey, unless you leave the game for good. So Davies had to play with a head wound. During his game, in the heat and the smog, Charlesworth leaned on his stick and then squatted to capture a moment's breath whenever the action paused. The Aussies outplayed the younger Pakistanis, but 22 minutes into the game, Hasan Sardar got away on a little break, the Aussie goalie guessed wrong, came out with the wrong foot, and Sardar put the ball past him. It was Pakistan's only shot of the first half.

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United States 8021 0 232
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Hasan Sardar 1 0 0