MOSCOW 2013 – 9
LOOKING BACK: MOSCOW AND THE 1980 OLYMPICS
9. Record Breakers: The Games weren’t all about politics
Despite the American-led boycott, the 1980 Olympics had plenty of great performances, including no less than six new world records.
Nor surprisingly, all of them were set by Soviet bloc athletes. Here they are:
800 meters, 1:53.43 — Nadezhda Olizaryenko,USSR, led every step of the way, breaking her own world record by a stunning 1.43 seconds. All three medals were won by Soviet women.
4×100-meter relay, 41.60 – Despite atrocious baton exchanges (two of them were actually passed backwards!), an East German foursome broke the record they had set 2-1/2 weeks earlier in their Olympic trials.
Pentathlon, 5,083 points – Soviet Nadezhda Tkachenko broke her old world record by 271 points, leading a USSR sweep of the event. The silver and bronze medalists also broke Tkachkenko’s old record.
High jump, 7-8 Â¾ (2.36m) – Gert Wessig, a lanky 21-year-old East German cook (6-5, 180), had come more or less from nowhere to make the GDR team by setting a personal best of 7-6 Â½ two weeks before the Olympic high jump. Wessig then set three more PRs outjumped 1976 Olympic champ Jacek Wszola to win at 7-7 Â¾ (2.33), and then brashly set the bar at a new world record – and cleared it.
Pole vault, 18-11 Â½ (5.78m) – Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz of Poland overcame tricky winds and a loudly hostile and heckling Russian crowd to: first, win the event at 18-10 Â½ (5.75m); and then raise the bar to a new world record and clear it on his second attempt.
Hammer throw, 268-4 (81.80) — One good way to win an Olympic gold medal in the throws is to set a new world record on your first throw. That’s exactly what Soviet Yuriy Sedykh did, and it worked. Even the record holder coming in, Sergey Litvinov, fell short by more than a meter and had to settle for silver. Sedykh eventually raised the WR to 284-7 (86.74) in 1986, where it remains even today.
And One Who Came Close.
Decathlon – Daley Thompson wanted to regain the world record he had lost six weeks
earlier to West Germany’s Guiido Kratscamer. Thompson was on schedule to do just that, having produced his best first day ever with 4,521 points. But the second day was rainy and windy, and Daley concentrated on getting through the day in one piece. He won the gold medal with 8,495 – itself the third best performance ever – and of course won a second decathlon gold medal at Los Angeles in 1984.