While I was working at the religious centre in the Olympic Village in Sydney, I was lucky enough to meet some very interesting people. None more so than Madeline Manning Mims. When I first met her, also dressed in the ‘lovely’ volunteers uniform, she came and sat down in reception and we began to chat. She told me she was a gold and silver track medalist back in the day (800m gold medalist at Mexico City no less). She explained her role as a minister for athletes, having founded the United States Council for Sports Chaplaincy. And then she told me about Munich.
I was astonished by my ignorance, for this was before Stephen Spielberg had done his ‘let’s educate the next generation about history’ thing. Madeline had seen the Palestinian terrorists shortly before they killed their first Israeli athlete. The US quarters were in proximity to the Israeli rooms, and she and her teammates witnessed one of the terrorists firing his gun before they all turned and fled. Talking to Madeline, you could see the experience still had an effect on her. After all, she felt she had been staring death in the face that day.
So I often think about my time spent hanging out with Madeline. I expect she will travel to London this summer and be sat talking with another young volunteer in the Olympic Village in Stratford. I wonder what she will make of it all? It must be strange to have travelled to so many Olympic Games. I wonder if you ever become blazé to it all? And do some years stand out over others? It would be great to know. Madeline, if you’re reading this, we’d love to hear from you!
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