Let’s go back to 1960, and the Olympic games. That was the year a 26-year-old named Rafer Johnson took the gold medal in the decathlon. Four years earlier, Johnson had won the silver.
But his achievements did not end when his athletic career was over. Johnson became a successful actor in the 1960s and ”70s.
Johnson also became politically active in the 1960s, and that’s how he found himself in the kitchen at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles the night. Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, 55 years ago this week.
I met him in 1998, when he wrote his autobiography, called The Best that I Can Be:
As the 2022 Winter Olympics get underway today in China, we are reminded that these games can produce heroes and great triumphs, but also soul crushing defeats which can bring out either the best or the worst in a competitor.
Wisconsin native Dan Jansen was one of the world’s best speed skaters when he went to the Winter Olympics in 1988. He carried the expectations of millions of Americans on his shoulders. But as the games got underway, Jensen got devastating news from back home — his sister Jane was dying of leukemia.
He was informed of her death just before competing in the 500-meter event, the one he was expected to win. But he fell in that race, and fell again in the 1,000-meter race, and came home with no medals.
In 1992, he again came home empty-handed. Many people tacked the name the heartbreak kid on him.
But in 1994, at the Lillehammer Olympics, in his final race, the 1,000-meter, Jansen won his first and only medal, a gold medal.
I met him just a few months later, when he wrote a book called Full Circle.