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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


1992 was an Olympic year and the venue was Barcelona, Spain. We were all eager. Tim almost quivered in anticipation of what UND and North Dakota were going to accomplish at these games. Willie, now a freshman at UND along with Hardie, had taken the place of Greg Lougainis as Mr. Diving USA, and other divers had virtually conceded two golds to him and were actively striving to get silver. Willie was kind of keeping Hardie hidden from view, but Tim suspected that Hardie might have a shot at making it to Barcelona, even if he didn't have much of a chance for a medal. Billy, now their coach, concurred. However, Billy made it clear to Tim and the rest of us that he really wasn't Hardie's coach; Willie was. Hardie's diving was Willie's project, and as far as Billy could tell he was doing a spectacular job.

Jody would be back in the marathon, but hadn't convinced Hal to compete in the Trials. Hal had told Jody that he could only be a drag on Jody, and that it was time for Jody to shine on his own. Jody almost refused to go without Hal, but Tim, I, and the rest of the Gang ganged up on him (pardon the pun) and he agreed that it was time to solo.

Jimmy the archer decided that a return to the Olympics would be fun. He'd been keeping up his practice and his participation in top level competition, so he was ready.

And then there were the Cavers. Nine strong. Marty believed that they all had a shot at qualifying, though the complexities of team selection might mean that not all made it.

That made a potential of 13 Olympians from Grand Forks, and all were in some way connected to UND: 5 were current UND student athletes (Willie, Hardie, Jody, Seth and Janice), seven other gymnasts were committed to UND, and Jimmy was adjunct faculty, teaching archery, a position Tim had arranged for him not long after his Olympic victories.

In October Willie talked to his father about Hardie. "Dad, I think Hardie can qualify for the Olympics. We need to get him in the right meets so that he qualifies for the Olympic Trials."

Billy thought on that for a while and said, "Well, for you, Willie, the Australian Open in Sydney was the ticket to success. Why don't you and Hardie head for Australia next January?"

"You and Mom'll come with us, right?"

"After the trip you two took this summer, why on earth would you need chaperones in Australia?"

"Love and support, Dad."

"The love and support that Hardie needs will come from you, Willie. I really think that you and Hardie ought to make the trip alone. For all intents and purposes you're Hardie's coach, not me. He looks totally to you for love and support-and I know he gets it. Don't rock that boat. Take Hardie to Australia and make him a champion."

"Thanks, Dad, for having that kind of confidence in me."

"Willie, over the years you have earned it. I've been so proud of you that I could burst. Off to Australia with you."

They went. Willie didn't compete; he just functioned as Hardie's coach. Hardie was 4th off the platform and 5th off the springboard-easily good enough to earn a trip to the Olympic Trials in the spring in Indianapolis. This was Willie's second trip to Sydney, and he was eager to show Hardie around. They had a marvelous time, doing the things that Willie'd done before, and adding more that appealed to Hardie. Their biggest adventure was taking a flying trip to Alice Springs. It was Hardie's idea, but he admitted that Marty had suggested it. Marty had told him, "It was on the train heading to Alice, not in Alice, but that was the trip when I first had sex with Fred. It was wonderful. No telling what you and Willie might accomplish in Alice." It seemed that everyone was gleefully assuming that Willie and Hardie would be partners for life.

Hardie reported later, much later, that it was in Alice that they'd first fucked each other. It was wild, exotic, hormonal, ass-wrenching, primal sex. After three nights of this in Alice Springs both boys were beginning to think that maybe they were destined as life partners. They were OK with that, but admitted to themselves, and to each other, that if they were to be partners they needed female sexual relations as well.

Hardie, and of course Willie, did get invitations to the Trials, but they weren't allowed to go alone. Most of the Gang tagged along, organized by Fred. Hardie's diving seemed plodding and not out of the ordinary. But his degree of difficulty was near the max-almost as high as Willie's who'd followed the lead of his father and uncle and chosen absolutely the most difficult dives in the inventory. Hardie's execution may have seemed plodding and unexciting, but it was nearly flawless. That, combined with the difficulty level, earned Hardie a place on the team as the third springboard diver. We were all surprised and thrilled. Well, all but Willie were surprised; all including Willie were thrilled.

Tim and I were convinced that the wooden and plodding Hardie was a creation of coach Willie. Tim said, "You watch. We're going to see a totally different Hardie in Spain. This was a facade designed to hide Hardie from the world while still getting him a place on the team. Hardie will be a medal contender in Barcelona. You mark my words."

I didn't even bother to mention that Willie qualified on both the springboard and platform, did I? Well, of course, he qualified. And Grand Forks had its first two 1992 Olympians!

Jody asked if the group going to the marathon Trials could be limited. He wanted Gayle; his parents, Franz and Anna; Hal and Sue; Jim and any of his spouses who cared to come along; and Herb and Phyllis Johnson. He came over to Dakota House one evening specifically to explain to Tim and me why we weren't on his exclusive list. Before he even got started on the explanation Tim said, "Jody, we don't have to be on every list. No explanations are needed."

Jody replied, "Oh, yes, they are. In the very beginning Jim sent me to you two and you opened vistas for me that have profoundly changed my life. Without that evening I spent with you two my humdrum life would've continued as a humdrum life."

I said, "Jody, that's silly. You were already a basketball champ, things were going to go well for you regardless."

"Nuts. You two led me to Hal, and the three of you changed my life-in the space of about a half hour conversation. But I understand that you two are very busy and can't go on every trip with the Gang. For the trials I've invited the people that have worked intensively with me. That's Hal, Jim, and Herb, and their spouses. I've only added Gayle and my parents."

Tim said, "Jody, thank you for making the special trip over here to tell us this, but we really do understand that members of the Gang are establishing special relationships with each other that don't include us. In the same way we have some special relationships in the Gang. That's the way the Gang works. And you're clearly fitting in well. Now tell me, when're we going to get some kind of an announcement from you and Gayle?"

"Please keep it under your hat, but right after the Trials. We're trying to decide whether we want to get married just before or just after the Olympics."

"Barcelona would make one Hell of a honeymoon."

"But a honeymoon could be very distracting to a practice schedule. We're thinking very carefully about our timing. We'll keep you posted."

For the marathon it's silly to talk about Trials, plural. It's one big race for all that meet the qualifying criteria. As a prior Olympic medalist, Jody did without any other qualifications. He had, of course, run a number of official marathons over the four years, and he and Hal had run innumerable informal ones together. But the Trials were a new experience for Jody: it was his first competitive marathon in which he didn't have Hal to set the pace, at least in the early part of the race. For the past year Hal had insisted that Jody be the pace setter in all of their marathons, but Jody was still worried that he would set out on too fast a pace and run out of steam; or that he would set too slow a pace and not be able to catch up with the leaders at the end. Hal told him, "Jody, I'll be at the five mile marker to pace you. Herb'll be at the ten. You won't have any trouble."

Jody still fretted; right up to the beginning of the Trials race. He got off to a good start and at the five mile marker, where Hal was stationed, was within 2 ½ seconds of his projected perfect time. Herb reported that he was almost as close at ten miles. At 14 miles he cut loose. He looked like a man possessed. Based on his experience in many, many marathons run with Hal, he was quite certain that he could go all out for the last 12 miles and sustain that brutal pace till the end of the race. Of course, he ran a slightly slower first 14 miles in order to save his strength to do that. Even so, running all out for 12 miles is brutal and almost unheard of. Racers that run just a mile pace themselves so they can cut loose for the last quarter mile.

Hal put Jody's ability to run 12 miles all out down to the fact that he ran so many full marathons-just like Hal did. Neither of them-Jody under Hal's influence-subscribed to the theory that practice should be less than a full marathon, and full races should be built up to, so that your strength is saved for the big effort of the race. To this Hal said, often quoted on the record, "Nuts, if you're going to be a marathoner, you should be able to toss off a marathon before breakfast, have a relaxing morning and run another one in the afternoon."

On Hal's advice, however, Jody ran no full marathons for five days before the Trials. Two nights before the race he, Gayle, and Hal slept together and explored the sexual possibilities of two men and a woman to the fullest. Jody followed Hal's advice to abstain the night before the race, but the three of them slept together and certainly did everything they could to raise the sexual tension-since Hal seemed to think that that was good for running.

It must've been. After breaking loose at mile 14 he passed everyone in sight by mile 21. He was almost a quarter mile ahead of the second place runner when he crossed the finish line at 2:07:46, slightly more than a full minute ahead of his Olympic record setting pace, and less than a minute off the world record! Now the only question was, could he repeat that in Barcelona?

There isn't much to tell about Jimmy's archery Trials in Rolla, Missouri, at the University of Missouri-Rolla. A lot had happened in Jimmy's life since the last Olympics: he fell in love, partnered with Will, continued his game management career, and joined the Gang. He kept up his archery, but not at the pace he had before he met Will and the Gang, when archery had been his only outlet other than work.

At Fred's urging, the trip to the Trials in the Missouri Ozarks was a much needed vacation as well as a sports adventure. Alan and Simon, Jimmy's camping partners, Ronnie, Sharon, and Kyle (with their two kids, Kevin age 14 and Rhoda age 12), me-ostensibly as his coach, Tim, to keep me company, Fred and Marty (as hosts) joined him at the trials. Fred sent Marty down in advance to find a nice place to stay. It was off season for the Ozarks and he easily found a second home with a huge living room about twenty miles out of Rolla. He went to the local mattress store and bought four king size mattresses. He moved furniture in the living room so that the four mattresses could be pushed into a big rectangle in the corner. There the nine adults would sleep.

As soon as they heard about the plans for the trip, including the mattresses in the living room-you can't keep secrets around COGs-Kevin and Rhoda insisted that they wanted to bring friends. Kevin wanted to bring Tom and Nancy's daughter, Noreen, and Rhoda wanted to bring Hal and Sue's son, Bud. Noreen was almost exactly the same age as Kevin and Rhoda was about the same as Bud; they played together a lot. It meant missing two weeks of school, but the Gang had already established that Gang activities like Olympic Trials were more important than school, and the Grand Forks Public Schools had pretty much learned to live with it. From time to time a principal balked, but Fred never hesitated to apply gentle pressure in the right places-his and Fred's Sports financial support of the schools was more than any superintendent wanted to risk! Fred didn't like playing the game that way, but he did when he had to. Since virtually all of the COGs were outstanding students, missing two weeks of school wasn't a problem for any of them, so Fred was willing to apply pressure when needed. It was rarely needed, because the superintendent was a smart man who knew he held a political position in a town in which Fred was an incredibly influential person. Because of his position, Tim liked to stay out of arenas like that, but at one time he did have lunch with the superintendent and carefully explained to him exactly who Fred was and how important it was to keep him on your side.

Nights Kevin and Noreen headed for one bedroom, Rhoda and Bud headed for another, and the adults headed for the mattresses in the corner of the living room. I don't have to draw you a picture of the events in the living room, do I? Let's just say that not much was left to the imagination. I should note that Jimmy and Will each tasted cum for the first time on that trip.

Are you surprised at the acceptance by the adults of the obvious sexual implications of the kids sleeping arrangements? I thought not; this is, after all, the Gang. And being the Gang, the adults knew exactly what was going on in the kids' bedrooms. Kevin and Noreen had been naked together often, but were just beginning to explore their sexuality. The first night Noreen had said to Kevin, "I want to watch you masturbate."

Kevin had been involved in some sexual play with boy COGs, but this was new. But he easily complied. When he'd finished he'd insisted that Noreen play with his cum, and try tasting it. When she leaned over his chest to taste some with her tongue, he grabbed her and pulled her face into his stomach where most of his cum had pooled. She thought that was terribly funny and it almost led to quite a wrestling match. But Kevin, no fool, pointed out that cum plus cunt can mean babies, and they headed to the shower to clean themselves up. Then it was Noreen's turn to masturbate, but the final act for a girl is nowhere near as spectacular as for a boy. They went to sleep in each other's arms.

The younger pair, Bud and Rhoda, couldn't resist playing with each other, which they'd done before in the privacy of The Hideout. They weren't of an age to orgasm, but that didn't preclude a lot of pleasure. By the fourth night the four of them were sleeping and playing together. It never got beyond hands, and their most fun was having Noreen, Bud and Rhoda all work on Kevin at once. One would take his nipples, one his balls, and one his cock, and they'd play till he came. Then they'd rub his cum all over him and take him to the shower. Then he and Noreen would arouse Bud and Rhoda, sometimes boy-girl and sometimes boy-boy, girl-girl, till they were content. Kevin would then pleasure Noreen as they drifted off to sleep.

One night, about half way through the two weeks, the four kids sneaked into the living room to watch the adults at play. They sat quietly in a corner, absorbing a spectacular sex education lesson. One by one the adults realized they were being observed, but each in turn decided to ignore the kids and let them stay. The next morning the kids were greeted by Tim telling them, "There's going to be a pop quiz later this morning about last night's sex ed class. Are you ready?"

"You bet! Can we demonstrate?"

Jimmy, Simon and Alan were eager to go camping in the Ozarks. They'd planned this in advance and had invited all of us to join them. Only Bud and Kevin had wanted to go camping, and so it was a trip for "the boys." It was my job to remind Jimmy, Simon and Alan that sex with the little boys was off limits, and it was Tim's job to remind Bud and Kevin of the same thing. They all knew the rules and willingly obeyed. However, it was agreed that watching was only pushing the line, not crossing it, and evidently both sides of the generation line had an interesting time observing the antics of the other generation. Considering that Jimmy had the longest dick in the Gang, watching him could be quite interesting. It was Jimmy who told us, "Oh, to be young, innocent, and inexperienced again!"

Jimmy was the gold medal winner in the previous Olympics and he was, therefore, the man to beat in these Trials. And he was beaten! But only by two archers, and the U.S. was entitled to three places. So Jimmy would again be an Olympian for the U.S.A. and North Dakota.

In the year 2000 there was a significant change in the selection process for the six person US Olympic Gymnastics Teams. Beginning in that year the selection was made by a top level selection committee based on performances at the Olympic Trials, the previous National Championships, and the overall record of the individual gymnasts. The idea was to create a stronger team by insuring that the best gymnasts weren't excluded because of a weak performance in one Trials competition. But in 1992 places on the team went to the six top male and female performers at the Trials. It meant that there was tremendous pressure at the Trials to perform, but those opposed to the committee selection process that would be in place in eight years, argued that the exact same pressure would be present at the Games, and performers needed to be able to produce at crucial meets or not be on the team.

Regardless, the rules would work in favor of the Cavers, who certainly couldn't have expected a selection committee to award 9 of 12 places on the two teams to gymnasts from a single state and club. But the Cavers understood the rules and concluded that they had at least a remote chance of all of them making the team. It would take fantastic performances from every single one of them, but if you looked back over their record and took the top performance each individual had turned in in each event, they could all make the team. Of course, they'd never managed to all have their best performance at the same time. It seemed incredibly unlikely that they could at the Trials.

The Trials were held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With the nine gymnasts, their parents, the three young Cavers who weren't old enough to compete and their parents, about 50 members of the Gang, and other various hangers on, Fred's collection to feed and house numbered more than a hundred. We occupied three floors of the largest Holiday Inn in Chapel Hill. There was a banquet hall nearby which he rented for the four days of the trials, and there a caterer served meals to the crowd from 11:00 a.m. until midnight each day (we were all told to go to the Holiday Inn complimentary breakfast!).

What can I say about the Trials themselves? Nels was the first gymnast of the Cavers to perform, and that on the high bar-his best event. The first day he was doing the compulsory routine and executed it to perfection. He was scored a 9.95, tied for the highest score in the event. It was a good start for the Cavers.

In general the men Cavers all did well on the first day of compulsory routines and the five men occupied 5 of the top eight positions. But it was a six man team, and only three were in the top six! Everything would depend on the optionals.

Again, Nels led off. Against the best advice of everyone who knew what he was planning... Well not everyone. The Cavers, the Gang, and most importantly Marty, were all for him. But everyone else in North Carolina that talked to him told Nels not to attempt the Gaylord Two. Created by Mitch Gaylord at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles it consisted of leaving the bar with a 1 ½ sommersualt and a ½ twist and then recatching the bar. It had never been attempted in the Olympics by anyone but Gaylord-it was considered too dangerous and too risky. Nels didn't believe in danger and was willing to take risks. The Gaylord Two was incorporated into his routine, along with virtually every other spectacular move that Tim had ever incorporated into his.

With the word out that Nels, at age 16, the youngest age at which a young man could compete, would attempt the Gaylord Two, virtually all eyes were on Nels as he grasped the bar. I don't think a breath was taken in the room for the first 23 seconds of the routine until Nels left the bar for the Gaylord Two and came back down catching the bar, and continuing on into the next movement. Everyone seemed to collectively breathe again, and then watch the rest of the routine, which was spectacular, but which couldn't match the "Two". His dismount was impossibly difficult, involving going over the bar, and was landed perfectly without the slightest step. Had the judges awarded anything but a ten they wouldn't have left the room in one piece. The crowd almost went mad. It was universally agreed that if he could repeat the performance in Barcelona he had a lock on the gold. He also had a lock on a spot on the team, and promised to do the same routine in Spain.

I'd like to be able to tell a story like that about each of the Cavers. But that was THE story of the Trials, and no Caver, no gymnast from anywhere, equaled that story. Actually, that isn't true. As spectacular as Nels' story was, it was upstaged by the story of the group of nine Cavers. In a couple of cases it was squeaky close, but all nine made it on their teams-men's or women's. Marty was beside himself with joy, pride, love, insanity, exuberance, you name it. It was well after dinner the fourth night, following the day when the four girls had locked in their places, that he finally came down to earth and could talk coherently. It had never occurred to any of us that all nine would make the team. But they did!

Author's Note:

Throughout this story, no attempt has been made to align the dates and locations of the various Olympic Trials with their actual locations and dates.

The other three members of the Olympic team, two women and a man from three different universities, were quickly adopted by the Cavers. They were Sandy Fisher from Ohio State and Marcie Williams from USC on the women's team and Chuck Mardian from Purdue on the men's. An invitation was issued for the three of them to come to Grand Forks and practice with the Cavers in the Cave. The Cavers realized they'd have to change the locker room arrangement for the next few months, but they were willing. Marty let them use the conference room on the main floor as a study hall since they lost the study hall as the girl's locker room returned to being a girls' locker room.

The three adopted Cavers fit right in. At first they found it hard to believe that the general tone of the Cave was cooperation rather than competition. They were used to highly competitive university programs in which there were more good gymnasts than slots on the team, and competition was stiff for those slots. In Grand Forks everyone seemed truly eager to have their fellow athletes do the best they possibly could, even if that meant they were better than you. Gradually the newcomers found that this spirit made them better gymnasts, and they began to understand how North Dakota had so incredibly dominated the Olympic Trials.

The love and support were obvious, and the sexual aspects of the love couldn't be hidden-even if they now changed in separate locker rooms. It was only a matter of time before the guest Cavers began to ask about the sexual implications of what they were seeing. It seemed that honest answers were in order, and it wasn't long before the locker rooms returned to normal (for the Cave) and Marty got his conference room back.

Dylan, Julia, and Lorrie, the three youngest and newest Cavers were around the Cave just like the ones headed for Barcelona. At first the new Olympians were a little troubled by having these three young kids around, but they learned that they fit right in, were excellent gymnasts, and, when asked, were able and willing to offer helpful comments on gymnastic performance-and shut up when not asked. Interestingly, everyone found that the presence of the little Cavers kept the sexual activities in check. You tend not to push too far when little seventh graders may be watching-and learning.

Sandy, Marcie and Chuck had all taken a semester off from their university studies during the spring of the Trials and the Games themselves. It gave them lots of time for practice and made it possible for them to spend a great deal of time in Grand Forks. The Cavers all kept up their studies, making the study hall-now back in the former girls locker room-a very busy place.

Barcelona, the birthplace of IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, was selected by the IOC over Amsterdam, Belgrade, Birmingham, Brisbane and Paris at their meeting in Switzerland, in October, 1986. Fred had been sufficiently certain of the outcome that he and Andy had headed to Barcelona in September and found a small hotel perfectly located near the future Olympic venue. The hotelier knew the value of his hotel if his city got the games, but he couldn't help but be tempted by Fred's offer to book the entire hotel at rates somewhat higher than his usual rates, but lower than he might get if the games came. Besides, Fred wanted to book for a month. The deal was made, and Fred had accommodations for up to 200-depending on how many were willing to squeeze into the beds. This was, after all, the Gang.

Now the Games were upon us. Fred immediately adopted the three gymnasts on the American team who weren't Cavers, since the Cavers had essentially made them Honorary Cavers for the period between the Trials and the Games. Much to their surprise, and after some embarrassed refusals which Fred simply ignored, this meant that their parents, siblings, and coaches were included in Fred's party in Barcelona. Fred also insisted that the winter Olympians connected to the Fred, as well as their coaches, come to Barcelona; Fred didn't want to leave anybody out. The party started in Minneapolis airport where everyone assembled to board Fred's chartered World Airways jet for the direct trip to Barcelona. We were met by Andy, who'd flown over a few days ahead to make final arrangements. A fleet of five busses met the plane and took us to a special customs shed where we were cleared. From there we went to our private hotel after a quick tour around the center of Barcelona. We got to the hotel about 11:00 a.m. local time, and Marty warned everyone not to nap. "Take a walk, go sightseeing, work out in the little gym the hotel has set up in the basement, do anything, but don't think of sleeping. If you do, you won't sleep tonight and your schedule will be off for a week. Go to bed about nine this evening and get a good night's sleep and you'll be ready to face the day in the morning." Marty didn't really care if the rest of us took that advice, but he went out of his way to make sure all of the athletes did!

Sandy, Marcie and Chuck bunked in with their parents at the hotel. The Cavers paired off in their usual way. We thought Connie and Hardie might bunk together at the hotel, but they didn't. Connie continued what had become a habit-she bunked in with Evan and Nick. We couldn't help but speculate on whether Connie would end up with Hardie or in some kind of a threesome with Evan and Nick. We got no hints from the kids involved. Hardie and Willie bunked together, and some of us were convinced that they were becoming a permanent pair. There were no comments from the principals. Jody, Hal and Sue were together. Sue would gladly have let Jody have Hal to himself, but he wouldn't hear of it. Jimmy and Will were together in the hotel. It was all agreed that Jimmy and Jody would room together in the Olympic Village.

Moving to the Olympic village complicated things. Men and women had different lodgings, and unmarried men and women together was more than frowned upon! Only Nick and Evan really got what they wanted! Seth roomed with Chuck, and Nels roomed with Austin. Among the girls Sandy roomed with Janice and Marcie roomed with Connie leaving Mary and Lucy together. Seth had become the sort of unofficial team captain, and at his urging each pair shared a bed and slept cuddled together. However, the Honorary Cavers weren't ready for gay or lesbian liaisons, so chastity reigned-in those three rooms.

For the record, the three youngest Cavers, who were along as spectators, all roomed together at the hotel. They told their parents that they simply couldn't imagine leaving one of them out! It wasn't to be the first test that their parents would be put to! I'm not sure anyone really knows what went on in that hotel room. There was a clear understanding that they'd tell their parents the details, but I think their parents decided that they really preferred not to ask. Some people get with the program sooner than others!

The Barcelona Opening Ceremony was spectacular, but then to the participating athletes it is inevitable that the Opening Ceremony be spectacular; how could an event of a lifetime not be? Barcelona, the capital of the Spanish Autonomous Region of Catalonia, was displaying the unique Catalan culture as well as representing the national identity of Spain. The lighting of the Olympic Flame was quite special, and most commentators today talk about the flaming arrow of Barcelona as the most spectacular of the lightings. An archer, the only para-Olympian to ever light the caldron, shot a flaming arrow which had been lit by the last runner of the relay. The arrow passed over the high caldron. Even today reports don't agree on whether the arrow ignited the natural gas coming from the caldron or whether a hidden artificial lighting method was used for safety purposes. No matter, it was spectacular.

The next day both men's diving and gymnastics began, but since diving finished first, we'll follow that story first here as well. What can I say about Willie? He seemed to capture the essence of his father, Billy, his Uncle Tim, and his friend Greg Louganis, being constantly compared with all of them. He failed to hit his head on the diving board to gain the sympathy that Greg had received from his accident, but in all other respects he equaled or exceeded all of their successes. The two gold medals were never in doubt, and to pretend there was any suspense in the competition for the gold would be unfair to all concerned. The diving battle of the Barcelona Games was for silver and bronze. I think Willie put more energy into coaching Hardie than he did in his own diving.

Tim, of course, had always chosen as his optional dives the absolutely most difficult, and thus the most high value, dives available. Hardie had trouble with one of those dives, so he chose all but one of the most difficult. This pattern had begun with Tim and was becoming fairly common with many top level divers. So Hardie did not, by choosing very difficult dives, have any real advantage over his serious competition.

Men's springboard preliminaries were the first day and Hardie held his own. Tim and I had the feeling that he was holding back a little. He wasn't making mistakes, but we thought in practice we'd seen a Hardie who put forth slightly more effort. We both guessed that this was Willie's plan, and we worried that he might encourage Hardie to be too tricky for his own good. But we stayed out of the picture as Hardie captured a place in the semi-finals that would take place in the second week.

Your points in the preliminary round don't carry forward, but your points in the semi-finals and finals are added together to determine medals. So where you stand going into the semi-finals doesn't make much difference. However, it's difficult to advance your standing in the finals much beyond where you stood in the semi-finals. Hardie clearly understood that. Nobody had paid much attention to Hardie in the prelims; which was clearly his and Willie's intention. They couldn't ignore him in the semi-finals. It was as if a different diver had crawled into his skin. He approached the board with a spring in his step; he seemed at ease, smiling and confident. There was no hesitation as he approached his dives. This was the Hardie we knew from Grand Forks. He'd been absent at the Trials and in the prelims. He wasn't in Willie's class; well, nobody was. But he was damn good. He found himself in fourth place at the end of the semi-finals, clearly a contender for a medal, possibly silver since the second, third and fourth place divers were very close.

Twelve divers continued into the finals, which were the evening of the day of the semi-finals. Hardie and Willie had had dinner alone together. Willie told me later that the only words spoken between them between the semi-finals and the finals were, "I love you." That and a hand squeeze was all Hardie needed. He came into the finals like a man possessed. You could imagine Willie up there on the board, as indeed he would be in just a few minutes. Hardie, the sleeping giant, had fully awakened. The young Japanese that started the finals in second place had a bad third dive in the finals and it put him out of serious contention. The Chinese who started in third was not about to give an inch. His difficulty level was just on a par with Hardie's, and his execution was consistently as good or better than Hardie's. Hardie was as good, or almost as good, but he wasn't going to pass him. At the end, Hardie stood on the podium to receive his bronze medal joined by the Chinese silver medalist as they listened to the Star Spangled Banner played for Willie. Two nights later it played again for Willie as he captured the platform diving gold. It would be a tough act for others in the Gang to follow.

It was tough on the Gang to have diving and gymnastics going on at the same time, but that was the hand the Gang was dealt. We had to choose between the two sports for most of the Games. It was particularly hard on Tim. He watched the first day of men's team gymnastics, missing Hardie's preliminaries. But he decided that he simply had to be present for Hardie's possibly medal winning performance, and he was certainly glad he was. The gymnasts would be performing again, and Hardie wouldn't be.

However, it meant that Tim missed some spectacular gymnastics as the American men's team squeaked out a bronze medal, just barely passing the Japanese in a spectacular upset-the United States wasn't considered a serious gymnastics contender in this Olympiad. The Unified Team (former Soviet republics) dominated the games and took the gold. China was close behind, and the Americans were a ways behind the Chinese with the Japanese nipping at their heels. It did mean that all of our men gymnasts would go home with a medal, regardless of the individual events.

None of the performances of any other of our gymnasts could touch Nels' performances on the high bar. He repeated his performance at the trials three times (team, individual all-around, and individual event competition), nailing the Gaylord Two and his landing each time. Just so that everyone knew that he really was unbelievably good, he actually performed three different routines, each framed by the Two and his super difficult landing. By the third time he performed it, virtually everything came to a halt in the Palau Sant Jordi (St. George's Palace) arena as 12,000 pairs of eyes watched Nels perform his death-defying (well that's what a circus ringmaster would've called it!) routine. Tim asked him later how he stood up to the pressure of such a situation. He replied, "Tim, as far as I was concerned, there were only four people in my audience: Mary, you, Mom and Dad, and you all would've loved me even if I'd screwed up. So I didn't." For the record, five of six of his high bar performances were scored 10.0.

Regretably Nels wasn't as spectacular in his other five events, but he did manage a bronze medal in the individual all-around, as well as the inevitable gold on the high bar. Like Nels, Seth's best event was the high bar, but in the year leading up to the Olympics Nels had surpassed him. Seth was very glad to come away with the bronze to Nels' gold. Nick's best event was the pommel horse, and he got a bronze in that as well. The others did well, but that was the extent of the medals.

Lucy was almost as spectacular on the uneven parallel bars as Nels was on the high bar. Her routines were incredibly difficult, and moving from bar to bar was almost as dangerous as Nels' antics higher up. However, because of the lower height, Lucy's show wasn't as showy as Nels. Her scores were almost as spectacular. She had six scores on the uneven bars: two in the team competition, two in the all-around, and two in the event competition. Three of these were 10s; two were 9.950 and one was 9.937.

In the team event the women of the Unified Team, Romania, and the United States were incredibly close. Nothing was decided until the last woman, a Romanian performed her last vault-a less than perfect, but nonetheless very difficult vault, giving her a score of 9.875. This made the final scores: Unified Team 395.666, United States 395.095, Romania 395.079. Had the last vault been a 9.895 Romania would've gotten the silver medal. As it was, the US got the silver and all of our Cavers, including, of course, the Honorary Cavers, had at least one medal. Lucy got the gold in the all-around, and Connie got a bronze in the floor exercises.

All in all it was a spectacular performance for the United States and for the Cavers.

The rules were changed once again for the Archery. They started with a FITA round, which involved four distances, for all of the competitors. However, the subsequent rounds were all shot at seventy meters, eliminating the shorter and longer distances. Jimmy was disappointed, because he felt that the longer distance is what really separates the men from the boys. However, it was argued that at the longer the distance the more the luck of the wind influenced the final standings, and the shorter distance reduced that.

The first round, called the elimination round, would reduce the field to 32, who would compete in seeded pair competition till they were down to four in the semifinals. The two winners would pair off in the finals for the gold and silver, and the two losers would pair off for the bronze. Jimmy hung in till the semi-final round, but just barely, having some close calls including one tie that had to have a tie breaker. The Koreans dominated the sport, more so than in previous years. Jimmy had had to admit that he hadn't kept up his practice like he should have. Jimmy suffered his first and only defeat in the semi-finals, and had to compete for the bronze, which he just barely won by a single point 109 to 108. Interestingly, the silver medalist got a 107 in final round. Jimmy was the only U.S. archer near that high in the standings, so the US had no chance at a team medal.

That left the marathon. Hal thought Jody was ready. More importantly, Jody thought Jody was ready. If there was any issue it was self-confidence, and Jody was acquiring it-coming to terms with the idea of racing without Hal beside him, or just in front or behind. Jody had learned how to picture Hal's position in his mind, and used that to pace himself. It seemed to work. He ran a fairly fast first fourteen miles, but allowed about 9 runners to be ahead of him when he cut loose at mile 15. That was one mile further into the race, but Jody had discovered by experimenting in practice marathons that he did better when he delayed his final all-out push by one mile.

At mile 16 he passed his first runner, and by mile 22 was in third place. At mile 24 it was down to two, and Jody was slowly gaining. It looked like it was going to be the close finish that the event planners hoped for. The final lap would take place in the Olympic Stadium ahead of, but not part of, the Closing Ceremony. With less than a mile to go Jody and Hwang Young-Cho of Korea entered the stadium, almost neck and neck. However, Young-Cho was past his limit and struggling. He made it successfully around the final lap, but lost distance to Jody the entire time. Jody crossed the finish line 13 second ahead at 2:13:10. Jody had his second gold medal. The times in Barcelona were about three minutes slower than in Seoul. Whether this was the weather, the course, or what, nobody is certain. But no records were set in the Barcelona marathon. Jody didn't care; he had his second gold medal.

And by the time he got home he had a wife. He and Gayle had laid their plans in advance and only confided in Fred who helped put events in motion. As we headed home on our World Airways charter jet, three days after the close of the Olympics, Fred invited the captain of the airplane to come back into the cabin. Gayle and Jody stood up in the front of the cabin. Hal stood with Jody and Sue stood with Gayle. Both sets of parents stood with the principals as well. The captain announced that just as the captains of ships at sea had the power to marry, so did captains of aircraft in international airspace, which was the case with our airplane. With that he started the very brief ceremony and soon Gayle and Jody heard the invitation, "You may now kiss the bride." He did, with glee. The captain signed the marriage license that Fred had had his lawyer prepare in advance, and Gayle and Jody arrived home a happily married couple. They spent their honeymoon night in The Hideout!

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