The place did the silver medals of the American crew from the 1972 Olympics go?

The 1972 Munich Olympics are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary this yr. This publication was particularly famous and devastated by the assault on Israeli athletes on September fifth. Eleven athletes are lastly killed after taking hostages for a number of hours.

One other spotlight of those Video games was the Olympic basketball last between the USA and the USSR, which occurred on September ninth. On the top of the Chilly Warfare, such a match was already a spotlight, however it was the controversial finish of the match and the outcome that modified this match within the historical past of the game.

A couple of recollections of these well-known final seconds. On this last, the People have been main by ten factors. Then, thanks partially to defenseman Kevin Joyce, they have been again within the sport.

three seconds of eternity

Late within the sport, Doug Collins, who would go on to teach the Bulls, finds himself on the free throw line. He excelled at each and thus put his crew forward (50-49). Then there are three seconds left earlier than the sport. The Soviets play a throw-in, however the sport is stopped in midfield with one second on the clock. The confusion begins with the timeout that the Soviets would have required. The referee decides to permit three seconds to play with a brand new face-off.

The USSR throws in a throw-in and the subsequent go would not even begin when the buzzer sounds. It is throughout, the rating seems on the TV screens, and the People rejoice, they’re Olympic champions.

Besides that the referee gave the Soviets three seconds to play and through the face-off the clock was nonetheless set to the second left earlier than the time-out confusion. So we’ve got to start out this faceoff once more, for the third time, with three seconds on the clock.

Throw-in turns into a really lengthy go that crosses your complete subject and hits Alexander Belov. Regardless of two American defenders in entrance of him, he catches the ball, feints and scores! For the final time within the sport, we hear the buzzer and the USSR turns into the Olympic champion, profitable 51-50.

It is historic not solely in kind, with these infinite final three seconds, but in addition in substance. That is merely the primary American defeat within the Olympics for the reason that introduction of basketball in 1936! The anger of the US gamers shall be within the midst of an earthquake.

A categorical rejection of the rostrum and medals

The following day on the resort, the American crew confirms what they’ve been saying to one another for hours: they may all surrender their silver medal.

“It was the one technique to categorical our emotions about this complete story. Now we have gained this sport. Even twice”Jim Brewer instructed The Athletic. “All of us agreed that this resolution must be unanimous”Doug Collins continues. “Nobody was going to just accept this medal. »

They stored their phrase, absent from the ceremonies and leaving their place on the rostrum empty. For the primary time within the historical past of the Olympic Video games, a crew refuses a medal in protest.

Over time, Olympic officers will do no matter is important to get them to vary their minds by multiplying the variety of letters and cellphone calls. However nothing helps. Fullbacks Kenny Davis and Tommy Henderson will even go as far as to say of their wills that their members of the family won’t be able to just accept the medals after their dying…

“The truth that they despatched us these letters yearly to tell us that our medals are nonetheless in Lausanne if we wish to get them again was humorous to me, who labored so near them”says Mike Bantom, a member of the 1972 crew who labored within the NBA in New York after which in Geneva.However I nonetheless did not see the purpose. »

What to do with medals?

To make the September 10, 1972 resolution irrevocable, winger Tom McMillen requested that twelve medals be despatched to a lawyer in Chicago in order that no participant would ever come to say their medals from the Committee of the Olympic Worldwide (IOC). The lawyer in query, Donald Gallagher, was then pressured to promote them to museums in america.

“So it is going to turn out to be a form of everlasting reminiscence. In any other case, the 1972 crew will sink into oblivion slightly.” explains McMillen, who didn’t wish to revenue financially from this medal enterprise. He was even keen to depart them in a protected in Switzerland.

What’s the response of the IOC in January 2022 to this request for placement in US museums? No, as a result of, in keeping with IOC lawyer Mariam Mahdavi, “this under no circumstances respects the spirit of the Olympic medal-giving” and what’s “no authorized foundation” to fulfill this request.

The IOC even hinted at Tom McMillen and his teammates, telling them that the Olympic group “appreciates the efforts to show into one thing optimistic the impression left by your rejection of the award virtually 50 years in the past”.

Again to sq. one: what to do with medals fifty years after these Olympics and with the gamers both lifeless or nonetheless caught of their 1972 resolution? The massive query, in keeping with a ballot completed by The Athletic elsewhere: To start with, the place are these twelve medals?

5 medals in nature …

For the reason that IOC may ask American gamers to come back and obtain medals, it will be troublesome for them to supply them if all of the 1972 silver medalists modified their minds someday. In spite of everything, in keeping with our colleagues, 5 silver medals are lacking. How is that this potential?

We should return to medal day. As we’ve got already mentioned, there have been no People. This boycott prompted the organizers to vary this system, because the ceremony was initially speculated to happen on the Olympic Stadium. With out the American delegation, the Olympic Corridor lastly hosts the occasion on the finish of the boys’s handball match.

The ceremony got here to an finish, and, as anticipated, nobody got here for both silver key chains or official paperwork – a form of diplomas – confirming the outcomes of the match. Due to this fact, two officers go away with this booty.

“I took diplomas that I ought to have some other place, however not medals”recalled Walter Treger in 2019, earlier than his dying mayor of the Olympic Village in 1972 and member of the IOC. “Ernst Knozel took the medals and I believe they disappeared there. »

Then, twenty years after that date in September 1972, the German Olympic Committee, chaired by Willy Daume and the place Walter Treger additionally works, proposes to donate seven of the twelve medals to the IOC in Switzerland. For this reason Mike Bentom obtained letters within the Nineteen Nineties saying that he may go to Lausanne to gather his medal.

If there are seven medals in Switzerland, what in regards to the different 5? ” The eighth medal shall be awarded to Mr. Daume, the opposite 4 nonetheless belong to Mr. Ernst Knosel, former sports activities director of the Munich Organizing Committee.”wrote Treger in 1992 in a letter in English on German Olympic letterhead.

… together with one within the palms of a former member of the Nazi Get together

The IOC confirmed to The Athletic that the 5 remaining medals have been by no means handed over to Willy Daume and Ernst Knosel. “The IOC has obtained seven medals from the Organizing Committee. In line with our data, at the moment the remainder of the medals remained with the organizing committee. Now we have no details about different medals. »

The 2 protagonists have already died, and their sons haven’t been in a position to present any concrete details about the destiny of those 5 components of Olympic historical past.

“I did not know my father had one of many medals and I do not know the place it’s”Kei Daume solutions the query. “My father didn’t have a final will and he didn’t make a will, so I didn’t get something after his dying. »

To make this story much more romantic, you must know that the small historical past of sports activities is intertwined with the massive story of Willy Daume. This character, who died in 1996, was chargeable for persuading the IOC, of ​​which he was a member, to entrust Munich with internet hosting the 1972 Olympics, 36 years after the notorious Nazi Germany hosted the 1936 Berlin Video games.

Germany was then led by Adolf Hitler and his political get together NSDAP, of which Daume was a member. In line with analysis printed in 2010, we additionally be taught that he was an informer throughout World Warfare II and that there have been 65 pressured laborers within the household manufacturing facility he inherited after his father’s dying in Dortmund.

Fifty years after that historic match and that unimaginable medal story, American anger has by no means abated. Ache and bitterness at all times water the responses of the gamers.

“Whether or not they’re in a protected in Switzerland or in somebody’s basement, I don’t care in any respect”concludes Mike Bentom. “If I gained a silver medal on the Olympics, I’d be very happy with it and clearly want to have it and show it someplace in my home and cherish the truth that I gained a medal as a result of it’s not a disgrace. . Besides we did not actually really feel like we misplaced. So I do not care the place these medals are. »

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