As one of the handful of American reporters in Moscow in 1980, James Dunaway had a clear view of the Moscow Olympics and how they were affected by the American boycott. In this column, Dunaway argues that the cost to American sprinters and hurdlers was quite high….
MOSCOW 2013 – 4
LOOKING BACK: MOSCOW AND THE 1980 OLYMPICS
4. THE BOYCOTT HITS THE OLYMPIC SPRINTS HURDLES
Without meaning to disparage the winners of the sprints in the 1980 Games, I think that at least some of the Moscow medals might have been won by absent Americans who were “Carterized” by the boycott.
In the men’s 100, gold and silver medalists Allan Wells of Britain and Silvio Leonard of Cuba would have had their hands full winning a single medal from Americans Stanley Floyd, Harvey Glance and Mel Lattany. IN the 200, though, world record holder Pietro Mennea, Wells and Donald Quarrie, who ran1-2-3, would have run 1-2-3 anyway. In the men’s 400 meters, Americans probably would have gotten at least one medal behind surprise Russian winner Viktor Markin’s 44.60.
However, the men’s relays would have been a different story. American depth would have won both the 4×100 and the 4×400 easily-assuming, that is, that the Americans could get the baton around the track without dropping it or running out of their lane.
In the women’s 100 and 200, if Evelyn had been in Moscow, she would probably have won medals of some color — quite possibly gold — in both the 100 and 200. But an injured Ashford didn’t even compete in the U.S. Trials, and without her Soviet and East German women had no trouble winning won 7 out of 9 medals.
In the women’s relays, because of their depth, East Germany and the USSR would still have gone 1-2 in the 4×100 and 2-1 in the 4×400.
But the biggest victims of the boycott were in the men’s hurdles. In the highs, Renaldo “Skeets” won 8 races in 1980 in faster time than East Germany’s Olympic champion Thomas Munkelt’s winning 13.38, and would have been a decisive winner. And Edwin Moses would probably have won the 400 hurdles by 10 meters or more from another East German, Volker Beck, whose Olympic winning time of 48.70 was bettered 11 times by Moses in 1980.
And of course, the boycott made it impossible for Moses, who won the intermediates in 1976 and 1984, to become one of the rare athletes to win Olympic gold in three successive Games.become one of the rare athletes to win Olympic gold in three successive Games.