All That Glisters Is Not The Last Gold Without Jack Nelson & Reconciliation

Jack Nelson and the USA Olympic women's team he led in 1976, with Jill Sterkel (back row, first left), Shirley Babashoff (mid-row, fourth left) and Wendy Boglioli (bottom row, first left) - courtesy International Swimming Hall of Fame
Jack Nelson and the USA Olympic women's team he led in 1976, with Jill Sterkel (back row, first left), Shirley Babashoff (mid-row, fourth left) and Wendy Boglioli (bottom row, first left) - courtesy International Swimming Hall of Fame

Best be clear from the outset on this one: great that someone, anyone, has made a documentary about one race in Olympic swimming history that highlights the kind of sinking feeling that has lasted a lifetime for generations of women swimmers beaten to a pulp by the winners victims of the German Democratic Republic’s State Plan 14:25. That said, The Last Gold is neither the greatest untold story in Olympic swimming history nor should it have airbrushed Jack Nelson out of history – reconciliation is the prize

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Comments

Paul Moxham

Several years back I came across this interview by Jack Nelson and thought it might be worth a view for those who had not seen it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLsQ9VMdoR0
This has not been an untold story for many years. I for one am sorry that if what you say Craig, that Jack Nelson barely gets a mention is true is the case.

chris epting

“The book comes with an open letter to German IOC president Thomas Bach asking that the East Germans from 1976 be stripped of their medals.”

Actually that is not true. Shirley’s letter calls for medals to be awarded to those that were cheated of them, while letting the East Germans keep theirs.

Craig Lord

Chris, thanks. Now “as reported by American reviews” (which is the case), and a line noted Shirley’s stance (very happy to hear it)

aswimfan

In 1972 we had “All that glitters is not Gould, maybe this year we can have “All that lusters is not Ledecky”?

Craig Lord

🙂 asf – and that may well be even less successful than the 1972 attempt to grind down Gould (who responded by taking a nail file to the call room to chisel away and not have to look any of them in the eye 🙂

KeithM

Was that really an attempt to “grind down” Shane Gould? Or was it more aimed at the American media and their coverage that was seemingly only fixated on Spitz and Gould? I’m not sure the intent was as mean spirited as some seem to infer (a la the Smash them like guitars quote lifted from Hall Jrs blog).

Craig Lord

KeithM: Shane thought it aimed at her. That’s good enough for me… and if the t-shirt makers were aiming at media, they might have chosen their message more carefully, Gould (15), not the media, named 🙂

KeithM

Maybe because they couldn’t resist what they thought at the time was a clever pun? 🙂

I seemed to remember, I think it was either Moe or Belote, comment that it wasn’t to diminish Gould but say in effect, hey she is obviously amazing but there are others great swimmers here too. I always got a sense there was some jealousy among many of the “other” top swimmers at the amount of coverage that both Spitz and Gould received (for good reason) that made them feel like they were being ignored. More recently I’ve always wondered if teammates (let alone rivals) of swimmers like Thorpe and Phelps secretly felt similarly.

Craig Lord

KeithM, I would imagine some feel that, too – and on occasion it is tangible… but I think there’s also a deal of acceptance of the obvious. If Phelps is on your team, you know he’s going to get more attention – and there’s no case for arguing that he shouldn’t. I think where it stings most is when a swimmer gets attention for things other than performance and the bigger performers, performances and the actual swimming get ignored.

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