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.