THE 1972 OLYMPIC GAMES REMEMBERED by Wayne Gallasch & Ell Darden.
In 1972 in Munich, Germany I met up with my old friend Ell Darden where we were both attending the Summer Olympic Games. I had known Ell for a number of years from his articles in the magazines and his close connection with Arthur Jones and Nautilus. This was my first ever Olympic Games experience and it was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. Right now as the 2008 Beijing Olympics draw to a close, it seems an appropriate time to share with you this short story from 36 years ago, along with some of my photos taken with Ell and two of the USA athletes.
It was Ell's suggestion that we would go in to the Olympic Village to take some photos with several of the USA athletes, with Ell and I collaborating for an illustrated article for IronMan magazine. Ell wrote the story and I supplied the photos which appeared on page 38 of IronMan magazine, September 1973 issue, Vol. 32 No. 6. My colour photo of Ell and the girls which appeared on the back cover of that issue of IronMan is reproduced left.
See in LARGE at the bottom of this page.
An amusing aside I will share with you was our unusual entry into the Olympic Training Grounds and Olympic Village complex, naturally situated behind the official security entry point. Security was nothing like it is today! Neither of us had official press passes and in order for us to gain entry to shoot the training photos, Ell had arranged to borrow athlete's passes from 2 USA guys he knew who were going outside the Official Village complex to do some site seeing. We met the 2 guys, then hung the borrowed passes around our neck, and in we went through security without a problem. I can assure you that this could never happen today!
Ell had already selected 2 young female athletes from the US Track and Field team to do the photo shoot and also knew exactly where we could shoot the best photos and find the most interesting outdoor equipment in the training area. We had a lot of fun and got some wonderful photos, some of which are included in this report.
When we had finished the shoot, we all went to the Village Cafeteria where we mingled with other world class athletes and had an excellent meal with some of the other American champions who were competing at the games. It was an experience I will never forget and something that could never be done today - without an official press pass!
The next day, September 6th, when I attended the Weightlifting to see the blue ribbon part of the event, the Men's Super-Heavyweight class, I immediately spotted Peary Rader sitting in the official Press section. Being that I was there early, I asked the security person on the Press section to ask Peary Rader if he would come down to the Press entrance to speak with me. This he did without hesitation and this was my first ever meeting with Peary. Imagine my surprise and excitement when Peary then took me into the Press section as his guest, seeing he had a spare seat next to him. This was typical of Peary's generosity. He was a very special person.
We then witnessed the greatest Olympic Weightlifting I had ever seen, as the amazing Russian VASILY ALEKSEYEV took Gold. The Silver and Bronze medals both went to Germans in RUDOLF MANG, and GERD BONK in 3rd position.
It is interesting to note that in 2008 in this class, it was the German lifter who was victorious, with the Russian taking the Silver. It was Matthias Steiner of Germany who won the 2008 battle of giants to claim Olympic gold in weightlifting's heaviest division.
Steiner heaved a total of 461 kilogram (1016.3 pounds) in the men's super heavyweight category clinching the GOLD with a clean and jerk of 258 kg (568.8 pounds). Russia's Evgeni Chigishev was second and world champion Viktors Scerbatihs of Latvia took the bronze.
Now to continue our 1972 Munich Olympics story, here is some of what Ellington Darden wrote under the title of TRAINING AT THE OLYMPICS:
I spent over three weeks in Munich — the week preceding the Games and the 15 days of competition. Much of my time was spent mixing and mingling with the athletes during their training, competition and leisure time activities. During this time, I made many rewarding friendships. Two of my most interesting friendships started at the dinner table one night when I met two of the girls on the American Track and Field team - Deanne Wilson and Sandi Goldsberry. They were both from California and had placed first and second in the National Championships in the High Jump. This was the girl's first trip to Europe and they were enjoying every minute.
I met Deanne and Sandi on their way to the track for a training session. Naturally I decided to join them. After a few laps around the track, I watched the girls do a few stretching movements and some pushups and sit-ups. Then they both challenged me to a high jump contest. Regardless of the outcome I figured we would have a great time - plus I needed the exercise.
Not to be outdone, I immediately challenged them to a chinning and dipping contest. Jokingly they accepted. Naturally I won, but Sandi and Deanne did very well. And how many females do you know that can even support themselves, much less do a chin or a dip. Together we did a few more exercises such as knee-ups, squats and rope climb. And let me say this, exercising is sure a lot more fun with these two around.
The girls and I continued to exercise together several more times during the week. (This is where I joined in for the photo shoot at the last exercise session. Wayne) Although Deanne and Sandi did not place in the Olympic High Jump competition, you can be sure that they made a good showing. Plus, they've got a bright future ahead since they're just 16 years old.
We usually have in stock some books by Ell Darden in our BOOKS section, see here.
All photos by Wayne Gallasch copyright Wayne & GMV. Taken with the Mamiya RB67.