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The Seoul Games / Day 3 : For Wright, ’72 Sprint Coach, Situation Is All Too Familiar

Stan Wright knows how Ken Adams, the U.S. Olympic boxing coach, must feel.

Wright was watching the Olympic telecast from his home in Sacramento Sunday night. He said he reacted with horror when U.S. middleweight boxer Anthony Hembrick arrived late at the arena and looked on as South Korean Ha Jong Ho, who was to be his opponent, was declared the winner in a walkover.

Hembrick was late, and Adams took the blame for misreading the fight schedule.

Wright was the men’s sprint coach in 1972 at the Munich Olympics when two U.S. sprinters, Eddie Hart and Rey Robinson, arrived late for their 100-meter quarterfinal race. A third, Robert Taylor, barely made his heat and qualified for the final, and he eventually won the silver medal.

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Wright was using an outdated schedule and took responsibility for the fact that Robinson and Hart, who was one of the favorites to win the gold, were unable to compete.

Did watching the boxing incident evoke memories of Munich?

“Naturally, you know it did,” Wright said. “It brought back memories, sad memories. The sad part is that the athlete did not get to compete. That’s the tragedy. I’ve always taken the responsibility; I was the coach. As long as I live, I will always remember. It will (always) be a regrettable and very sad incident.”

Wright, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered in July at the Olympic trials, said he can understand the emotions Adams might be feeling, frustration being foremost among them.

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“I didn’t want to scream. The only thing I could do was cry,” Wright said. “You feel so humble. It’s just a traumatic feeling; it’s difficult to express. It’s inexplicable. I’ll tell you one thing--it never goes away. It stays with you the rest of your life.”


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