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Archive for the ‘Summer Olympics’


Caster Semenya: Has she met her Kryptonite? 4

Posted on July 19, 2010 by Rojo Grande

The damage had been done.

Whether through insensitivity, ignorance, or just plain incompetence, an athlete was victimized in one of sport’s most embarrassing atrocities.

South African 800-meter world champion Caster Semenya was publicly stripped (of her dignity), raped (of her privacy), and disemboweled (of her physiology) by medical experts, governing sports entities, and news media.

Semenya was effectively banned from competition after her stunning 2009 victory in Berlin’s World Championships. Her rapid week-to-week improvement and her impressive world-leading time in the finals (1:55.45) prompted an intrusive gender verification process which left no piece of the champion’s persona hidden.

During the eleven-month ordeal, the black cloud of suspicion and controversy which fell first on Semenya, suddenly moved to cast its shadow on the various governing powers whose charge it was to protect the athlete.

Still, the damage had been done.

But as it is said, “…every dark cloud has its silver lining.”

Yes, after an excruciating delay, Semenya was finally cleared by Track and Field’s governing body (IAAF) to compete as a woman. Read the rest of this entry →

Billy Mills: A Giant Killer and Trail Blazer 1

Posted on December 08, 2009 by Rojo Grande
Billy Mills is the only American to win a gold medal in the 10,000 meter run.

Billy Mills is the only American to win a gold medal in the 10,000 meter run.

“You have to look deeper, way below the anger, the hurt, the hate, the jealousy, the self-pity; way down deeper, where the dreams lie, son. Find your dream. It’s the pursuit of the dream that heals you.”

These are the words of a Lakota (Sioux) father to his young son struggling with the whys of poverty, adversity, and racism in 1940s America.

When the young Oglala Lakota brave was 12 years old his father died, leaving him an orphan. Wisely, he took his father’s advice and pursued sports in his quest to find that dream.

Football and boxing filled the void for a time, but the young lad discovered a special connection to his inner dream when he took up distance running.

“All I had was the pursuit of a dream: I wanted to be an Olympian,” the boy would later say.

He was a natural. He found success in high school, setting numerous school records. Bill Easton, the track coach at the University of Kansas, was impressed with the gangly youngster and offered him a track scholarship.

Opportunity knocked…and Billy Mills opened the door.

Read the rest of this entry →

1960 Olympic Decathlon: A Duel For The Ages 11

Posted on December 05, 2009 by Rojo Grande

The decathlon duel between Rafer Johnson and C.K. Yang was the highlight of a star studded 1960 Olympics.

The decathlon duel between Rafer Johnson and C.K. Yang was the highlight of a star studded 1960 Olympics.

The decathlon is one of the most grueling competitions in all of sport. It consists of ten events, negotiated over two days. Points are awarded based on the order of finish as well as the distance, height or time achieved in each event. Final standings in a decathlon competition are therefore expressed as total accumulated points.

The particular events are designed to test the athlete’s speed, strength and endurance – in essence, an entire track meet in one competition. Because of the versatility and overall athleticism required to win, the Olympic decathlon champion is often referred to as  the “World’s Greatest Athlete”.

This is the story of one of the most dramatic battles for that coveted distinction. As you will read, this struggle for gold and glory carried with it some very interesting under currents.
The 1960 Rome Olympics was one of the most memorable in terms of drama, future legends and athletic achievement in all of modern Olympic history. Names like Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Wilma Rudolph, Al Oerter and the Russian sisters Irina and Tamara Press were but a few of the jewels set in the crown of Rome that year.

Among the gathered elite, probably none drew more attention than the top two decathletes in the world at that time: Yang Chuan-Kwang of Formosa (Taiwan) and the American world record holder, Rafer Johnson.

The decathlon in those days had worldwide appeal, due primarily to its dominance during the 1950s by Bob Mathias, who shocked the world by winning the 1948 Olympic gold as a 17 year old kid.

Yang, better known as C.K.Yang, was a member of the Takasago – an aboriginal tribe who inhabited Formosa long before the Chinese arrived. His athletic skill was recognized at an early age. He developed his art to the extent local facilities and competition would permit. He was good enough to finish eighth in the decathlon at the 1956 Melbourne Games. Eventually, track and field officials raised enough money to send him to the U.S. to train.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Randy White: The Manster
      September 4, 2020 | 5:14 pm

      In recognition of the start of football season, we have selected a two-time All-American from the University of Maryland who went on to earn a spot in both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fames as our Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      Randy White actually came to the University of Maryland as a fullback, but as a sophomore new head coach Jerry Claiborne recognized that he had the skills to be a great defensive lineman and quickly moved him to defense.

      Read more »

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