Several '84 Olympic stars are in the spotlight again
Several of the biggest names from last summer's Olympics were in the news again this past weekend for one reason or another. Zola Budd, making her first US appearance since her controversial collision with Mary Decker in the women's 3,000 at Los Angeles, finished second in the women's division of a 10-kilometer road race in Phoenix, Ariz. The very presence of the 18-year-old British runner from South Africa, of course, was a big publicity coup for the race organizers -- and an even bigger problem for those handling security.
In Budd's last previous race, the English cross-country championships at Birkenhead Feb. 16, three anti-apartheid demonstrators had thrown themselves in front of her path and forced her to quit running. In Phoenix, however, with extraordinary security arrangements instituted before, during, and after the competition, there were no untoward incidents.
Accompanying Budd were her coach, Peter Labuschagne and her adviser, Jan Momberg, who had helped persuade Zola to stay in Britain in January when she was talking about returning to South Africa, where she would have been banned from international competition because of that country's policy of racial separation.
As for the race itself, which sort of took second billing to all the publicity about Budd, it was won by Great Britain's Wendy Sly, who also had finished ahead of Zola in Los Angeles where she won the silver medal. Her time was 32 minutes, 3 seconds -- two seconds faster than the course record she had set in 1983 and 17 seconds ahead of Budd. Olympic marathon silver medalist John Treacy of Ireland won the men's race in 27:46.
Ironically, Mary Decker -- now Mary Slaney -- was also in the news. She and her husband, British discus thrower Richard Slaney, went to St. Richard's Church in Three Bridges, England, for the blessing of their marriage, which took place earlier in the year in Oregon.
Then there was Bobby Knight, the Indiana basketball coach who nowadays prefers to be called Bob, but who still acts a lot more like little Bobby whenever things don't go his way on the court. Knight, who coached the US Olympic team to the gold medal in Los Angeles, staged his latest temper tantrum during a Feb. 23 game with Purdue at which he tossed a chair across the court, was assessed three technical fouls, and was eventually ejected from the game. Now this past weekend as a further penalty for that eruption, he was suspended by the Big Ten Conference.
On a more dignified note, women's marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, a 1979 graduate of Bowdoin College, returned to the Brunswick, Maine, campus to receive the Bowdoin Prize -- the college's highest honor and one that is awarded only once every five years.
Women's all-around gymnastics winner Mary Lou Retton, returning to competition for the first time since the Olympics, swept all four events to take top honors in the American Cup competition at Indianapolis, while the men's winner was Tim Daggett, a member of the US team that upset China for the gold medal in Los Angeles.
Finally, the Olympic community was saddened by the passing of John B. Kelly, Jr., a former great oarsman who had gone on to a long career of service to amateur sports and the Olympic movement. Kelly, brother of the late Princess Grace of Monaco, was a four-time Olympic team member as well as a former world champion and Henley Regatta winner in the single sculls. He spent the last four years as first vice president of the US Olympic Committee, and had just taken office as president of that organization less than a month ago.