His Olympic Moment Went Unrecorded

Former swimmer John Naber, a guest at Thursday’s Southern California Sportscasters Assn. luncheon at the Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake, was asked about his most memorable Olympic moment.

He said it occurred after the 200-meter freestyle in the 1976 Games at Montreal, an event in which he won 1 of his 4 gold medals.

“Long after the award ceremony, Bruce Furness, the silver medalist, and I were still at the pool, dressed in street clothes. Everybody else was gone. We decided to strip down to our swim suits and do 4 laps to wind down.

“After about 3 1/2 easy laps, Bruce said, ‘Wanna race?’ I said, ‘Nah,’ and then I took off. I got the jump on him and was about to beat him to the wall when he grabbed my trunks. We wrestled in the water for a while, then started laughing. There were no TV cameras, and no one saw this. But it’s the moment I think of first when I think of the Olympics.”


Triple jumper Willie Banks, also a guest at the sportscasters luncheon, had this to say about why the U.S. contingent in Seoul was so unruly when it marched in during the opening ceremony:

“Just 2 seconds on TV means the world to mom and dad back home. The way to get on TV was to get to the outside two lanes of the track. It was just a simple cast of the athletes wanting to say, ‘Hi, Mom and Dad.’ ”

Add Banks: He has competed in three Olympics, going back to 1976. Is he ready to retire?

“I saw a friend of mine, diver Michele Mitchell, the other day. We talked about Big D and Little D. Big D (means) done forever, Little D (means) done for just a few minutes. I told her it’s Little D for me, so I’ll be going on.”


How important are winning and losing in the Olympics? High hurdler Craig Dixon, who finished third in a photo finish at London in 1948, said: “The next year I won 59 straight races, and none of that meant a thing compared to losing that race by 1 inch.”

Trivia time: The Dodgers lost their season opener to the San Francisco Giants, 5-1. But something happened on the first pitch of the season thrown to a Dodger that could have been viewed as an omen of what was to come. What was it?

The Dodgers gave President Reagan a Dodger jersey bearing No. 1 on it. Didn’t anyone realize that No. 1, Pee Wee Reese’s number, had been retired?

Marriage pays: Dave Stewart made a $10,000 bet with Oakland Athletics teammate Jose Canseco that Canseco wouldn’t get married before Nov. 5. Well, Stewart will have to pay up. Canseco, 24, married Esther Haddad, 21, in a Miami courtroom earlier this week.

No family members were present and the couple dressed casually. The clerk who performed the ceremony said, “They were giggling.”

Trivia answer: Steve Sax hit a home run.


John Naber, talking about comparing athletes to thoroughbreds: “The horse race imagery is nice, but when you stop and think about it, the retirement plan for horses is a whole lot better than for amateur athletes.”