The Atlanta Games of 1996, now 20 years ago. I camped on a buddy’s couch for the duration of the track and field events. Dropped off at a designated Marta pick up every morning, picked up at same late each night.
I had literally one of the best seats in the house. The USOC offered package deals for the tickets, memory tells me almost a year in advance. Each person could get 8 tickets and almost everybody did, taking advantage of the potential to make a killing on resale. I ordered only a single ticket. And it was a doozy.
One of the ephemera out in the barn is the water bottle Bob Kempainen was holding going to the start line of the men’s marathon. He had been so impressive winning the ’96 Olympic Trials Marathon. Broadcast live on national tv, drama unfolding as he projectile vomited over the last 4 miles, his technicolor broadcast evidencing the medical student’s specially formulated replacement fulids. As he finished his warm up he prepared to toss the bottle, I said “Hey Bob, I’d like your bottle” and he handed it to me. I was (am) such a running geek.
I saw Michael Johnson run his WR 200 meters 19.32. And Carl Lewis. Bob Kennedy leading the Men’s 5000 with hardly anything to go. With mine own eyes. Looking nightly at the flaming cauldron above, beacon of excellence, the performers on the track that heeded the call. These things have had a profound influence on how I view athletics.
I’m hoping LA gets their 2024 bid accepted by the IOC. This time I will need two tickets please.