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Who were your summer Olympic heroes?  You can send your comments by clicking on “LEAVE A COMMENT” located right above this.

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Watching the summer Olympics in London, I have been wondering what has become of my summer Olympic heroes of yesteryears.  Past postings feature my heroes from the 1952, 1956, 1960 and 1968  Games.

My favorite summer sports then—and now—are swimming, diving, gymnastics and track and field. You also can search the web for your own heroes.

Most of this information came from that mega grand site wikipedia.org. 

To access more information about each athlete,  put your cursor on the name. Click and open in a new tab. If you want even more information,put that name into your search engine, such as Google.

On to the 1972 Summer Olympics

Mark Spitz

Until Michael PhelpsMark Spitz was the uberstar of swimming. He won seven gold medals at the 1972 summer Olympics, setting world records in each of the events, a record that still remains.  Including his competition in the 1968 Games, Spitz has 9 gold medals, one silver and one bronze.

Wikipedia states, “Being Jewish, Spitz was asked to leave Munich before the closing ceremonies for his own protection because they feared  he would be an additional target of those responsible for the Munich massacre. ”

Uber Swimmer, Uber Endorsement Figure

Before the Olympics, Spitz had been a pre-dental student.  After the his success at Munich, at age 22, he quit swimming and capitalized on his fame, especially by making product endorsements.   The poster of Spitz wearing his swimsuit and seven gold medals became the hottest pin-up, but he had only limited success as an actor.  He did some broadcast commentating and  opened a Beverly Hills real-estate office. Today, Spitz’s website underscores his availability as a motivational speaker, who is “synonymous with excellence”.

Despite several inductions to several halls of fame, to date, Spitz has not been honored by the Olympics.

Olga Korbut

Remember that 17-year-old Belarusian who won four gold and two silver medals at the 1972 and 1976 Games, competing for the USSR. Korbut is famous for her technical skills on the uneven bars and the balance beam.  Her tuck back and Korbut flip remain popular.

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Korbut is best remembered  for bringing acrobatics to a sport that had most valued elegance.  The media whirl during the Game brought hordes of young girls to the sport worldwide.  She was the first gymnast to be inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1988.

With the fall of the USSR and the end of its life-time support of athletes, like many other Soviet gymnast, Korbut moved to the States, where she has seen limited success.  Today, Grandmother Olga lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and is still involved in gymnastics.

At home in the USA

Nadia  Comăneci 

Romanian Nadia Comăneci, who was the first female gymnast to score a perfect 10 when she was only 14 years old,  is considered to be the most famous gymnast in the world and one of the best athletes of her century. She won three gold medals at the 1976 Montreal Olympic and two more gold in the 1980 in Moscow. In addition, she won a silver and a bronze in 1976 and two silver in 1980.  She retired from competition in 1981.

“Comăneci was known for her clean technique, innovative and difficult original skills, and her stoic, cool demeanor in competition.”

In 1981, while participating in a gymnastic tour in the USA with  Comăneci , her coaches Béla and Marta Károlyi defected to the United States.   Comăneci return to Romania where she was very carefully watched and limited. However, in 1989 just before the  revolution, she was able to defect along with a group of other young Romanians.

She came to the USA where she came under the control of a self-appointed older, married with children business manager.  Károlyi helped her to move to Montreal where she toured, promoted gymnastics apparel and modeled.

At the invitation of former American Olympic champion gymnast Bart Conner, she moved to Oklahoma. Engaged in 1994, they were married in April 1996, in a Romanian state wedding. They operate the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy, are motivational speakers and are active in many charities and international organizations. Their son was born in 2006.

Comăneci is a naturalized citizen of the United States but retains her Romanian citizenship. She is an Honorary Consul General of Romania to the United States for bilateral relations.

Among her very many honors, the International Olympic Committee  granted Comăneci its highest Olympic Order  in 1984 and 2004, the youngest recipient and the only person to received it twice.

Coaches Béla and Márta Károlyi

After their defection, Béla and Márta Károlyi continued their outstanding and yet often controversial coaching careers in Houston.  Károlyi coached nine Olympic and  fifteen world champions, sixteen European medalists and six U.S. national champions. After years of being the head USA Olympic coach, Károlyi retired from coaching after the 1996 Olympics. They still have a ranch and gymnastics camp in Texas.  Marta is the National Team Coordinator for USA Gymnastics, which showed much success for the women’s team in this 2012 Olympic.

Márta Károlyi and  2012 Overall Gold medal winner Gabrielle Douglas