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The spring of 1980 is still vivid in my memory. It was the year of my high school graduation, and hometown hero Bruce Roberts of Chateauguay, Quebec, would be going to Moscow for the Olympics for the 800 meters.
I would have loved to see him battle it out with Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe.
I would have loved to see Tony Sandoval (not the same Tony Sandoval coach at Cal Berkeley) in the marathon. His winning time of 2:10:19 was a USA Trials record until Ryan Hall smashed it.
I could go on.
But we all know know what happened. He stayed home, just like I did, and watched the limited coverage on TV.
This week, the 1980 USA Olympians officially got their gold medalists in this article from Sports Illustrated.
The 1980 U.S. Olympians who never had a chance to compete at the Moscow Games can finally say it: They are officially gold medalists.
But these aren’t Olympic medals. Rather, they’re Congressional Gold Medals that were awarded to the 461 Olympic athletes during the Carter administration but never officially recorded in the Congressional Record due to technical problems with the production of the medals.
“This is long overdue recognition for a group of Olympians who unfairly were denied the opportunity and honor of representing our country at the 1980 Games,” said U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel.
The United States boycotted the 1980 Olympics to protest the Soviet Union’s military operation in Afghanistan. The Congressional Record from that year shows Congress intended to award the Congressional Gold Medals to the Olympians to record the sacrifice they made – having trained for games in which they would never compete.
The U.S. Mint produced the medals, but because they were expensive, financial constraints forced them to be gold-plated bronze medals instead of solid gold. Because of that difference, the Olympians were never officially documented as having received Congressional Gold Medals.