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The Olympics are back
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The Olympics are back

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For more’n a year, we’ve sympathized with athletes beginning the 2020 Summer Olympics tonight … already tomorrow in Tokyo, 14th Summer Games site.

COVID-19 postponed 2020’s Games causing these in Tokyo to be fan-less, partially because mask-less, unvaccinated folks’ refusal spawned a viral uptick.

Can’t imagine being Olympic athletes/almost-Olympians, after training a lifetime, losing by two billionths of a second or .000001 style-points.

Crushing!

Having their 2020 moments in global competition postponed a year ain’t no big thing compared to 1940 and ’44 Olympic hopefuls.

1940’s Games, scheduled for Tokyo, were moved to Helsinki, then cancelled; 1944’s Games, awarded to London, cancelled by World War II.

Thanks to Turner Classic Movies, ’48 London Olympics highlights, in dazzling color with the incomparable Ted Husing and Bill Stern at the mics, invaded the House of Adams Monday.

Looking forward to tonight’s opening ceremonies … even without Jim McKay describing the “Thrill of victory and agony of defeat” throughout the next fortnight … and his opening comments from 1972’s ill-fated Munich Games.

Think on Jim’s words a minute.

Quickly, name the first Olympic medalist from Alabama who comes to mind.

Personally, it’s the pride of Oakville, Jesse Owens, winner of four Gold Medals in the 1936 Berlin Games, where it’s been described, he “single-handedly” crushed Germany’s demonic Adolph Hitler’s Aryan Supremacy myth.

Owens won Gold in the 100- and 200-meter dashes (edging teammate Mack Robinson, Jackie’s older brother), long jump and as a last-minute replacement for Marty Glickman, the 4x100 relay.

Name another Alabama medalist.

Birmingham’s sprinter/long jumper Carl Lewis won nine career Golds and one Silver from 1979-96. The U.S. boycotted 1980’s Moscow Games.

That world-class duo may be the cream of Alabama’s Summer Olympians, but there are others in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame:

Percy Beard, Auburn, Hurdler, Silver, 1932.

Alice Coachman Davis, Tuskegee Institute, high jump, first Black female to win Olympic Gold, 1948.

Harvey Glance, Phenix City, Auburn, 100-meter, Gold, 1976.

Willie Davenport, Troy, 110-meter hurdles, Gold, 1968, Bronze, 1976.

Jennifer Chandler, Lincoln, Diving, Gold, 1976.

Willie Smith, Auburn, 4x400, Gold, 1984.

Rowdy Gaines, Auburn, Swimming, three Gold medals, 1984.

Evander Holyfield, Atmore, Boxing, Bronze, 1984.

Lillie Leatherwood, Tuscaloosa, 4x400; first UA female Olympic Gold Medalist, 1984; Silver 1988.

Dannette Young-Stone, Alabama A&M, 4x100, Gold, 1988, Silver, 1992.

Calvin Smith, Alabama, 4x100, Gold, 1984, Bronze, 1988. First athlete to run 100 meters under 10 seconds (9.97) and 200 meters under 20 seconds (19.99).

Vickie Orr, Auburn, Basketball, Bronze, 1992.

Charles Barkley, Auburn, Basketball, Gold, 1992,1996

Mia Hamm, Selma, Soccer, Gold, 1996, 2004; Silver 2000.

Ruthie Bolton, Auburn, Basketball, Gold, 1996, 2000.

Cat Whitehill, Briarwood Christian, Soccer, Gold, 2004.

Non-medalists:

Wilbur Hutsell, Auburn, coached 1924 and 1928 Games. Coached four AU Olympians.

Bill Streit, Birmingham, AU, Olympics coach 1924-36.

Euil “Snitz” Snyder, Adger, Auburn, 400-meter, 1928.

Kenny Howard, AU, Olympic Trainer, 1952, 1976.

Reita Clanton, Auburn, Handball, 1984.

Don Gambril, Alabama; Head U.S. Swimming coach, 1984.

Mel Rosen, Auburn, coached 11 Olympic track/field athletes, Olympics coach 1992.

Hmmm.

When white doves were released opening 1972’s Games, after four years preparing, Jim McKay said, “Those doves are doing a beautiful job of flying!”

And they were …

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