2012 Olympic Judo Bronze Medalist Comes Home

2012 Olympic Judo Bronze Medalist Marti Malloy Celebrates Homecoming

2012 Olympics bronze medalist Marti Malloy greets SJSU Judo Head Coach Yosh Uchida (Christina Olivas photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

SJSU judo bronze medalist Marti Malloy, ’12 Advertising, flew straight from London to the Bay Area last night just in time for dinner following the 22nd Annual Yosh Uchida Golf Classic at the Silver Creek Valley Country Club. “I would like to thank every single person who helped me along the way,” she said before several hundred judo supporters. “Judo is an individual sport, but this medal is ours.” Malloy presented a special coaches’ medal to fellow Spartan Yosh Uchida, 92, saying, “There is no one more deserving of this than you, Mr. Uchida.” Widely credited with elevating judo to an Olympic sport, Uchida still attends nearly every SJSU judo practice as he has done for the past 66 years. Malloy visited each table at the event for photos, reuniting with teammates, SJSU judo Olympians from years past, and assistant coaches including Shintaro Nakano. “Shintaro Sensei, I felt you standing on the podium with me,” Malloy said. She is SJSU judo’s first female Olympic medal winner, and only the second U.S. female Olympic medal winner in the sport. Later in the evening, Sean Clerkin of Pasadena-based architecture firm Clerkin & Clerkin, shared plans for a new dojo (judo practice hall) that will be part of the Spartan Complex Renovation and Seismic Upgrade. The complex, which houses most of SJSU’s kinesiology programs, includes Yoshihiro Uchida Hall. SJSU plans to break ground on the $56 million project in spring 2013.

Marti Malloy and Yosh Uchida

With Judo Legend Yosh Uchida as Her Coach, Spartan Marti Malloy Wins Bronze at London Olympics

With Judo Legend Yosh Uchida as Her Coach, Fellow Spartan Marti Malloy Wins Bronze at London Olympics

SJSU judoka Marti Malloy shares her medal with Coach Yosh Uchida (photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for the USOC).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

With judo legend and fellow Spartan Yoshihiro Uchida watching from the stands, SJSU judoka Marti Malloy persevered through a tough series of matches to win a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London.

A recent advertising graduate, Malloy came to San Jose from her native Oak Harbor, Wash., to train under Uchida, who has spent a lifetime cultivating judo into an Olympic sport.

In an interview with NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai, Malloy said “When I first got to San Jose, I was accepted into that program like I had been there my whole life, and ever since then, they’ve been my family.

“So just being able to bring home the medal for San Jose State and show all the hard work and dedication from the coaches and the whole San Jose State judo team — that’s winning alone for me.”

Meanwhile, Malloy’s fans here in San Jose held a viewing party to watch her compete, an event also captured by NBC Bay Area.

In a front page story in the San Jose Mercury News, columnist Mark Purdy describes how hard Malloy worked in London to bring home the bronze.

Malloy also appeared on the Today show, where she was recognized for being the second woman in U.S. Olympic history to medal in judo.

SJ Mercury News: Spartan Coaches U.S. Olympic Fencing Team Including His Son

San Francisco teen Alexander Massialas makes mark on U.S. Olympic fencing team

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News June 21, 2012.

By David Pollack

SAN FRANCISCO — Alexander Massialas’s journey to the 2012 London Olympics as the youngest member of the U.S. men’s fencing team did not begin watching Hollywood swashbucklers.

“I was a little kid and people would say ‘Zorro’ or ‘Princess Bride?’ Massialas said. “And I would be, ‘What are you talking about?’ ”

Pop culture didn’t draw the 18-year-old to fencing. Credit for that goes to both genetics and his San Francisco surroundings as the son of a two-time Olympian in the sport.

“My dad never actually pushed me to start fencing,” he said, “but my earliest memories are from walking around the house and seeing the Olympic rings and my dad’s trophies and my dad’s old foils. You get immersed in it.”

And that is fine with Greg Massialas, who is in London both as Alexander’s father and coach of the U.S. men’s foil team.

The elder Massialas runs the Halberstadt Fencers Club out of a former auto repair shop in San Francisco’s Mission District. He has coached his son since second grade — starting him a year late as if to be certain the choice was Alexander’s.

The payoff goes beyond London. This fall, Alexander enrolls at Stanford on a four-year fencing scholarship — supporting evidence for his father’s contention that fencing success is often matched by academic success.

“Fencing requires a lot of athleticism,” he said, “but also in combination with high intelligence, being able to think quickly.”

Alexander refines the concept.

“You don’t over-think the game, you don’t under-think the game,” he said. “You just find that perfect spot where you’re thinking one step ahead of your opponent.”

To bolster his case, Greg Massialas notes that the top collegiate fencing programs are in the Ivy League as well as schools such as Stanford and Duke.

Fencing consists of three separate events — foil, epee (pronounced eh-PAY) and saber, all played out on a wooden strip similar to a shortened, slightly wider bowling alley. Each event has its own weapon, scoring system and designated target area.

Matches are divided into three periods — three-minute rounds separated by a minute of rest. The first person to record 15 touches wins and if neither reaches 15, the one ahead wins; ties are resolved in sudden-death.

Alexander competes in foil, and London is far from his first international stage. He participated in more than a dozen events over the past year alone in countries such as Japan, South Korea, Cuba, France and Italy. An arrangement with the private Drew School he attends near his lower Pacific Heights home enabled him to maintain grades strong enough to impress Stanford.

Qualifying for the Olympics has always been part of the dream, but Alexander said he did not expect to be going in 2012.

At 6-foot-3, Alexander has a height and reach advantage over many opponents that works in his favor. But his size can be a drawback, too.

“It also makes your target area bigger,” said Alexander, who is not considered a medal favorite.

There likely will be another Olympic fencer in the household as well. Alexander’s sister Sabrina is only 15, but came close to qualifying for the women’s foil team in London. That has her well-positioned for the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Massialas children grew up in a fencing household, but their 56-year-old father practically stumbled into the sport. Born in Greece, he was 10 when his family moved to the United States. An uncle was a professor at the University of Michigan, so the family ended up in Ann Arbor, where Greg became a competitive swimmer.

When his father suggested he find another sport during the off-season, Greg discovered a fencing class offered by the Ann Arbor recreation department. Things took off from there.

After graduating from Cornell, Massialas moved to the Bay Area to train with the late Mike D’Asaro, an instructor at San Jose State who was the U.S. men’s fencing coach at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

His work paid off as Massialas qualified for the next three Olympics. He never earned a medal, but felt he lost his best shot when the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Moscow games because the Soviets invaded of Afghanistan.

“I had won a couple tournaments and was in my prime,” said Massialas, who was 24 at the time. “But that’s life and we go on.”

Now the next generation in the Massialas family gets his chance to reach the podium.

SJ Mercury News: Spartan Judoka Receives Bronze Medal

Purdy: Oh what a comeback for San Jose judoka Marti Malloy

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News July 30, 2012.

By Mark Purdy

LONDON — Monday afternoon, Marti Malloy suffered the most crushing defeat of her judo life. But at least she had time to get over it and recover from her depression before facing her one last chance to win an Olympic medal.

Like, say, about 70 minutes or so. Just 70 minutes for the San Jose judoka to wipe out the notion that she’d blown a lifetime dream and try to reboot her confidence.

“That is a good question,” Malloy said when I asked how she did it.

I have seen remarkable comebacks in many sports. I am not sure if I’ve ever observed one better than Malloy’s comeback here in the 126-pound women’s judo tournament of the 2012 Games. It was a comeback that earned Malloy a bronze medal — just the second Olympic medal of any sort won by a USA female judo competitor, ever.

Not only that, but Malloy’s bronze victory unfolded before the 92-year-old eyes of legendary San Jose State judo coach Yosh Uchida, who made the trip to London to see his pupil perform.

“It was great to see,” said Uchida, dressed sharply in a dark gray suit and blue San Jose State tie. “We’re real proud of her. It was her real determination that did it.”

Determination? Or just outright guts? Maybe a little of both.

“It still gives me goose bumps right now thinking about it,” said Malloy, a 26-year-old native of Washington who won collegiate judo titles at San Jose State and lives in the South Bay.

Here’s how the drama unfolded:

The judo event at the Olympics is brutal. It’s like staging an entire NCAA basketball tournament in one day, except with shoulder throws and leverage. Competitors work their way through a bracket against opponent after opponent, with slight rest between. Malloy spent Monday morning defeating three opponents to reach the tournament semifinals.

And when she got there, things looked good. With a spot in the gold medal match on the line, Malloy was holding her own against Corina Caprioriu of Romania. But with just seven seconds left in regulation time, Malloy took an aggressive risk that backfired. Thud. She was caught off balance by Caprioriu, who put her down to seize the victory.

Flat on the mat, Malloy covered her eyes. She knew what the loss meant. The tournament format gave semifinal losers one last, desperate opportunity to claim one of two bronze medals awarded. In this case, that task would require Malloy to face and defeat the defending Olympic champion from Beijing 2008, Giulia Quintavalle of Italy, who is five inches taller than Malloy with four more years of experience.

And their crucial match would begin in about 70 minutes. She didn’t have long to wipe out negative thoughts and create positive ones.

“I had never fought her,” Malloy said of Quintavalle. “But I had been a big fan of hers. I sat down to recover and only 20 minutes later, I had to warm up again. It’s just the hardest thing, to try and put behind something like that and get ready for another one.”

There was consolation, of course, in the fact that Quintavalle had also suffered a stunning loss before facing Malloy. When they strode onto the mat with bronze on the line, both had to be exhausted. They were tentative for the first minute or so before Malloy went for broke. She saw an opening, faked one of her best moves and then unloaded another. In less than a second, Quintavalle was flat on her back. The referee pointed. Malloy had her medal.

“I was just elated,” Malloy said. “And when I looked up, I saw Yosh up in the seats, so happy. I think I started crying. He has been my No. 1 supporter.”

In more ways than one. Malloy had originally planned to just train in the South Bay and not attend college. Uchida insisted she enroll at SJSU and pursue a degree. She recently graduated with a B.S in advertising, with multiple stints on the dean’s list.

“She wouldn’t let any obstacles stand in her way,” Uchida said. “She didn’t have any money, had to get a job or two to get by. But she wasn’t going to be stopped. I felt bad for her today when she lost in that semifinal but thought she would have the determination to fight through it.”

I wondered if Uchida had taught Malloy her winning move.

“No, no,” he said. “She’s smarter than that.”

Malloy’s victory makes it a total of four Olympic medals for San Jose State judo competitors over the years, in a sport that has traditionally been dominated by Asian and European nations. The USA has never won a judo gold medal in either gender and has only won 11 medals, period. So you could say that SJSU accounts for more than a third of Olympic medals earned by America in the sport.

That’s not necessarily a shock. Uchida has guided San Jose State to 45 collegiate judo championships and still assists head coach Shintaro Nakano there. Uchida also once served as a USA Olympic coach and literally helped write the international judo rule book back in 1964, when he and several colleagues codified the standards and weight classes so that it could become an Olympic sport.

Yet as he watched Malloy receive her medal, Uchida was beaming as proudly as he has ever beamed. These could be the last Games he attends. Uchida sat alongside San Jose State team physician Dr. Robert Nishime. One of those part-time jobs held by Malloy to help subsidize her training has been a position as Nishime’s front desk receptionist.

“I think I lost an employee,” Nishime said after the medal ceremony.

Not necessarily. Just for fun, Malloy might want to report back for duty in Nishime’s office just so she can answer the phone this way: “Hello. This is an Olympic medal winner speaking. Want to hear about my kick-ass comeback?”

Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5092.

ESPN: Sports Network Profiles SJSU Alumnus Yosh Uchida, 92, Judo Champion

ESPN: Sports Network Profiles SJSU Alumnus & Judo Champion

ESPN: Sports Network Profiles SJSU Alumnus Yosh Uchida, 92, Judo Champion

ESPN has televised a profile of judo legend and alumnus Yosh Uchida.

A Champion of Judo

Posted by ESPN May 18, 2012

ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi profiles 92-year-old San Jose State judo coach Yoshihiro Uchida, whose team recently won its 45th National Collegiate Judo Championship. The video, shot in part at San Jose State, celebrates Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and the 2012 Olympics, which will feature yet another San Jose State judoka, Marti Malloy. Uchida, a 92-year-old SJSU alumnus and San Jose resident, is responsible for judo becoming a competitive sport in America. He has been involved with the sport since childhood, and championed its rise in popularity since returning from serving in World War II.

ESPN to Profile Judo Legend and Alumnus Yoshihiro Uchida

Marti Malloy

Marti Malloy

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

With the 2012 Olympics just around the corner, and Asian-Pacific Heritage Month in full swing, ESPN recently sent a camera crew to San Jose State to interview judo legend and alumnus Yoshihiro Uchida. Slated to air at 8 p.m. May 20 on ESPN, the segment (now available here) will focus on Uchida’s leadership role in elevating judo to an Olympic sport, and his many years of coaching at SJSU. After enrolling at San Jose State in 1940, Uchida served in World War II, graduated with a degree in biological sciences, and founded and later sold a chain of medical laboratories to Unilab, all the while coaching and advocating for a sport he learned as the child of Japanese immigrants to California. Uchida’s legacy includes recent SJSU graduate Marti Malloy, an American judoka set to make her Olympic debut in London. The ESPN segment follows up on a New York Times profile.

New York Times: Judo Legend Yosh Uchida Celebrates 66th Year, 2012 Olympian

Sports of The Times: For 66 Years, a Force for Judo in the United States

Published by the New York Times April 1, 2012.

New York Times: Judo Legend Yosh Uchida Celebrates 66th Year Coaching, Including a 2012 Olympian

Kevin Johnson, a junior in the SJSU Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, helped shoot and edit this three-minute New York Times clip on Coach Uchida.


Yoshihiro Uchida celebrated his 92nd birthday on Sunday.

Even more impressive is that for 66 of his years, Uchida has been coaching judo at San Jose State University. He built the program into a national power and has almost single-handedly elevated the stature and visibility of judo in the United States.

Uchida, a Japanese-American, has also been a model of determination and has had a knack for transforming obstacles into opportunity and using an opponent’s momentum to his advantage.

Last month Uchida watched proudly as San Jose State hosted the national collegiate judo championships and his Spartans won their 45th championship in 51 years. This summer, one of his athletes, Marti Malloy, will represent the United States at the Olympics in London.

As important as judo has been to Uchida, his life has been framed by other events. While he served in the United States Army during World War II, his family was sent to American internment camps. Because of his heritage, he struggled to find work after the war, but he eventually founded successful businesses. And he has never quit working or coaching.

“I thought that when I got to be 65, I’d start getting Medicaid, Medicare and all that,” he said during a recent interview in his office. “I thought, Well, that would be the end. But when I got to be 65, I felt great. I feel that if I just retire and do nothing, my whole life would start to shrink.”

Uchida was born April 1, 1920, in Calexico, Calif., the third of five children. He grew up in Garden Grove, helping grow strawberries and tomatoes. At 10 he learned judo, part of a traditional method for Japanese parents in America to instill their culture in young men.

In 1940, Uchida enrolled at San Jose State, where he studied chemical engineering and was student-coach of the physical education department’s judo program. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was drafted into the Army, where he served in the medical corps as a laboratory technician.

For a generation of Japanese-Americans, the American dream disintegrated on Feb. 19, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the removal of about 110,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans from the West Coast during the war. Uchida’s parents were incarcerated at a camp in Arizona; his brothers were sent to the Tule Lake Relocation Center in Northern California; his sister and her husband were sent to an internment camp in Idaho.

Reminders of that have never left. In fact, the building on campus that now houses the judo dojo — renamed Yoshihiro Uchida Hall in 1997 — was a processing center for internment camps.

“It was upsetting and confusing,” Uchida said. “You’re an American citizen, drafted into the Army. You’re in basic training, and your parents are in an internment camp. You really did get angry.”

Like African-American soldiers serving during World War II, American-born Japanese who were United States citizens — Nisei — served in segregated units where they were subjected to much of the same racist treatment.

Uchida recalled an episode in 1942 at Camp Crowder in Missouri when a burly white soldier confronted a group of Nisei and referred to them as Japs. Uchida, who stood 5 feet 5 inches, took offense and challenged the soldier. A scuffle ensued, and Uchida took down the stunned soldier with a judo throw.  “I was a hero in the barracks,” he said.

After four years of service, Uchida returned to San Jose State and earned a degree in biological science. He also resumed teaching and taught judo to police candidates.

Most of the candidates were World War II veterans attending college under the G.I. Bill of Rights. Many had taken a mongrelized form of self-defense in the service. “They had no interest in a Japanese-American teaching them anything,” Uchida said. “They were big and arrogant.”

On the first day of class, one student, a veteran and a San Jose State football player, confronted Uchida. “He asked me what I thought I could teach him and said that he used people like me for bayonet practice,” Uchida said. “He said, ‘What would you do if I did this?’ ”

The veteran picked Uchida up, dangled him and swung him around. “The class thought it was funny,” Uchida said. “I just dumped him, in front of the whole class; the class was just shocked. I turned around and said, ‘O.K. fellas, this is judo.’ There wasn’t trouble after that.”

After graduating in 1947, Uchida remained the San Jose State coach, a part-time position. However, he had difficulty finding employment in a hospital despite his degree and his extensive experience as a lab technician in the Army. One prospective employer, Uchida said, told him, “You might be able to do the work, but we’re not hiring any Japs.”

Uchida protested that he had worked with thousands of veterans during the war. “I was told: ‘That was because you were in the military. Here, we have all these civilians, and you would be touching them — and they wouldn’t want that.’ I was real discouraged.”

Fortunately, a friend who was a supervisor for the county had a friend at O’Connor Hospital and arranged for Uchida to be hired as a lab technician in the emergency room, where he worked the overnight shift. Uchida eventually became a lab supervisor at San Jose Hospital.

His passion remained judo, and his crusade was to help establish it as a sport sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union, which, with the help and influence of Henry Stone, the judo and wrestling coach at California, came about in 1953.

That year, San Jose State sponsored the first nationwide A.A.U. championships. In 1962, Uchida organized the first national collegiate judo championships, which San Jose State won. (Judo is still not sanctioned by the N.C.A.A.) He and Stone helped judo become an Olympic event, and Uchida was the coach of the United States’ first Olympic judo team, which competed at the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo and won a bronze medal.

As a Japanese-American, “to be elevated to coach an American Olympic team was something you never dreamed of,” Uchida said.

“This for me was one of the greatest things,” he added. “Nobody had ever heard of such a thing.”

Judo was not enough to sustain Uchida and his young family, however. Unable to get a home loan because of insufficient income, Uchida, who was still teaching judo, went into business on his own. He bought a failing medical laboratory from an acquaintance in 1957 for $3,000, putting $75 down and paying the balance in increments. Using friendships and connections with doctors he had worked with, Uchida turned the business into a profitable venture. Part of the profits kept San Jose State judo afloat.

During the next three decades, Uchida bought 40 laboratories. In 1989, he sold his business to Unilab for $30 million. He and 78 investors later began the San Jose Nihonmachi Corporation. They built a sprawling $80 million complex of housing and commercial units in San Jose’s Japantown, converting an eyesore into an impressive community.

After more than nine decades of living, Uchida said, chief among the many lessons he has learned is that if you have a cause or a mission, determination alone is not sufficient to see it through.

Uchida uses the internment camps as an example of what can happen to the uninvolved. He recalled how Japanese-Americans were scapegoated and stereotyped and became the target of unfounded suspicions.

“People would come up with all kinds of accusations and things that were not true,” he said. “But we were not politically involved enough to be able to stop that. You have to be politically involved and know what’s going on. If you’re not politically involved, things happen and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Uchida added: “Sometimes, you get kicked around. But if you believe in it, just keep pushing ahead. You might have to find out how to get there by going backward and then coming back again.

“But if you don’t get involved,” he said, “you won’t live long.”

Olympian John Carlos Headlines Legacy Week

The Guardian: Smith/Carlos Salute Among 50 Top Olympic Moments

50 stunning Olympic moments No13: Tommie Smith and John Carlos salute

Smith and Carlos, the 200m gold and bronze medallists, don black gloves and give the Black Power salute on the podium in Mexico in 1968

Posted by The Guardian Feb. 8, 2012.

On 17 October 2005 a 20ft-high statue was unveiled at San Jose State University showing their former students Tommie Smith and John Carlos frozen, fists aloft, as they had stood exactly 37 years earlier on the Olympic podium in Mexico City. “Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood for justice, dignity, equality and peace,” reads the inscription. “Hereby the university and associated students commemorate their legacy.”

Two years later Smith published his autobiography. In 2008 the pair were given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs, something akin to an American Sports Personality of the Year awards. Carlos’s own autobiography followed last October. This, now, is their life, full of speaking engagements and interviews, publicity and publication, applause and acclaim.

In the moments before the medal ceremony in Mexico City, Carlos, Smith – as of a few moments earlier the 200 metres world record-holder – and the Australian silver-medallist Peter Norman sat in a room the athletes called “the dungeon”, deep in the bowels of the Olympic Stadium. As they prepared, they discussed what was about to happen. One of the things mentioned was the possibility of them being murdered on the spot.

“I remember telling Mr Smith: ‘Remember when we get out there, we’ve been trained as runners to listen to the gun,'” Carlos has said. “‘So when we get out there and do what we do, if the hammer hits that bullet, hit the deck. Don’t be just a duck on the table for them to just shoot at.'”

Whose idea was the raised fist? With depressing inevitability, both athletes have claimed it. According to Carlos, just before the final he suggested it to Smith: “I’m going to do something on the stand to let those in power know they’re wrong. I want you with me.” He even claimed to have deliberately lost the race, because “Tommie Smith would have never put his fist in the sky had I won”. But if this were true, why would Smith by then have procured the pair of black gloves the pair famously go on to share? Smith, meanwhile, recalled: “I told John what I was planning to do. I said: ‘You don’t have to do anything that I do, but this is what I’m going to do. Just follow my lead.'” These competing claims caused the pair to fall out for several years, but more recently Carlos has stated that the protest had been planned by the two athletes together over a period of days.

What is currently agreed on is this: they wore gloves to represent black America, and removed their shoes and wore black socks to symbolise the poverty of the American black community. Smith wore a scarf and Carlos a bead necklace, recalling lynching. Both Americans wore the badge of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, and they planned to raise their gloved fists, which according to Smith at the time “stood for the power in black America”.

Norman recalled those moments in “the dungeon” thus: “They involved me in the conversation. It wasn’t a secret huddle, they were letting me know. It was my suggestion that they split Tommie’s gloves because John had left his back in his room. [Then] I said to John: ‘You got another one of those badges?’ ‘If I get you one, will you wear it?’ he asked. ‘I sure would,’ I replied.”

Neither Smith nor Carlos had a spare badge, but as they walked into the light of the stadium they saw Paul Hoffman, a (white) member of the US rowing team and OPHR activist. “I was wearing my badge and he came up and said: ‘Hey mate, you got another one of those?’ So here’s this white Australian, with two black Americans, who wants to wear an OPHR badge, and I was damned if I was going to be the one who says he can’t,” Hoffman told the BBC (in the excellent documentary Black Power Salute, which you can currently see here). “So I took mine off and handed it to him.”

They reached the podium, where a rather bemused Lord Burghley, the sixth marquis of Essex – a Conservative politician and International Olympic Committee member who 40 years earlier had won gold in Amsterdam in the 400m hurdles – placed their medals around their necks. When asked later what he had thought of the gloves, he said: “I thought they had hurt their hand.”

The anthem started. Smith and Carlos thrust their fists in the air. Different people recall the reaction within the stadium very differently: Time magazine reported that “a wave of boos rippled through the spectators”, but Newsweek describes simply a “murmur [that] rippled through the stadium”, and in the New York Times it is reported that the protest “actually passed without much general notice”. What is certain is that for everybody involved, life was about to change for ever.

If San Jose’s brilliant sprinting coach, Lloyd “Bud” Winter, was responsible for them reaching the podium, another member of the university’s staff was largely responsible for what they did there: Harry Edwards, the inspirational young sociology professor and creator of the OPHR, had done much to politicise the pair – particularly Smith, by nature more reserved and less militant than his fellow medallist.

Edwards had originally advocated a black boycott of the Games. “For years we have carried the United States on our backs with our victories, and race relations are now worse than ever,” he had told the New York Times. “It’s time for the black people to stand up as men and women and refuse to be utilised as performing animals for a little extra dog food.”

The boycott was also supported by Martin Luther King, who had met Edwards and several athletes including Carlos in New York a few days before he was assassinated in April that year. “I would like to commend the outstanding athletes who have the courage and determination to make it clear that they will not participate in the 1968 Olympics until something is done about these terrible evils and injustices,” he said.

But many black athletes were keen to compete in Mexico, and when South Africa and Rhodesia were disinvited from the Games – one of the OPHR’s three main demands – the boycott plan was dropped. Other ideas swiftly took its place, and at the US trials a few weeks before the Games, officials were warned to “expect almost anything”.

So immediately after Smith and Carlos made their stand a statement was released which stated: “US Olympic officials knew they planned to do it,” and that they “did not expect to take any action”.

But then Avery Brundage got involved.

Brundage was the IOC’s president from 1952 to 1972, and he was also an antisemite, white supremacist and Nazi sympathiser, whom the athletes preferred to call “Slavery Avery”. His removal from office had been one of the OPHR’s other key demands. His pet hate – ironically, given his active involvement in the 1936 Games in Berlin, which became a propaganda exercise for the Nazi party – was the use of sport for political or nationalistic ends. He detested and did his best to ban medal tables, and in 1964 came close to passing a motion that would have denied Smith and Carlos their memorable moment, by ending the raising of national flags and the playing of anthems at medal ceremonies and replacing them with the Olympic flag and “a fanfare of trumpets”.

He might have been presenting the medals himself that day, had he not been in Acapulco watching the sailing (the original purpose of the gloves, according to Carlos, was as protection in case they were required to shake his hand). But Brundage had seen the ceremony, and he was mad as hell.

The IOC criticised Smith and Carlos for “advertising their domestic political views”, which amounted to “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit”. The US Olympic Committee, threatened with the expulsion of its entire team unless action was taken, suddenly changed its tune, putting out a second statement apologising for an act of “untypical exhibitionism … which violates the basic standards of sportsmanship and good manners which are so highly regarded in the United States”. Smith and Carlos were given 48 hours to pack their bags and leave the country. Hoffman, for the crime of lending Norman his badge, was very nearly expelled as well, and got away with it only because his father was a judge and a personal friend of many American officials.

The protest had not been much better received back home. “‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ is the motto of the Olympic Games. ‘Angrier, nastier, uglier’ better describes the scene in Mexico City last week,” reported Time, describing the protest as “a public display of petulance that sparked one of the most unpleasant controversies in Olympic history”. Associated Press called it “a bizarre demonstration”. One of few voices of support from white America came from Robert Clark, the enlightened president of San Jose State, who praised them as “honourable young men dedicated to the cause of justice for the Black people in our society”.

Back in Mexico City, Jesse Owens was sent to talk black athletes out of staging similar protests (though he was ignored, and considered a white apologist by many). They were told “A repetition of such incidents … would warrant the imposition of the severest penalties at the disposal of the US Olympic Committee.” But protests of varying degrees of subtlety abounded. After a black American clean sweep in the men’s 400m, won by Lee Evans, another student of Edwards at San Jose State, all three athletes wore berets to their medal ceremony. Long-jump gold-medallist Bob Beamon wore black socks pulled up high, while the bronze-medallist, Ralph Boston, went barefoot. “They’re going to have to send me home, too,” he said. They did not. The women’s 4x100m relay team publicly dedicated their own gold medals to Carlos and Smith.

(But another athlete, the heavyweight boxer George Foreman, who claims he “thought about going home myself” in solidarity after Smith and Carlos were expelled, then celebrated his own gold medal by waving a little American flag in the ring. He was castigated in the black community. “I felt what I did was right, and I think they appreciate me more for doing what I think was right than following what they think was right,” Foreman said the following month. In his autobiography Smith says Foreman’s flag-waving made him “very bitter, very angry”.)

What happened next?

The BBC paid them $1,000 in cash for an exclusive interview. Will you not benefit from the notoriety and publicity the protest has generated, they were asked. “I can’t eat that,” Carlos said. “And the kids round my block can’t eat it. They can’t eat publicity, they can’t eat gold medals. All they want is an equal chance to be a human being.”

The truth of this observation was clear after their return to America. After a near-violent scrum of reporters assaults them in Los Angeles, they board a second flight to San Jose. “Once we got back we were ostracised, even by our own,” Smith said. “Folks were scared, man. No jobs. We couldn’t find work. People even told us, ‘We can’t get close to you guys because we have our own jobs to protect.’ These were my friends. At least, they were my friends before I left for Mexico City.”

Smith’s agent cancelled their contract, and Smith was sacked from his job washing cars. Within two years his mother had died, his marriage was over, and he was unemployed and broke. “My mother died of a heart attack in 1970 as a result of pressure delivered to her from farmers who sent her manure and dead rats in the mail because of me,” he said. “My brothers in high school were kicked off the football team, my brother in Oregon had his scholarship taken away.”

Carlos fared little better. “I came back ‘John Carlos the neighbourhood bum’,” he has said. “I would soon have no money and I had to beg, borrow, steal and gamble to pay my rent. I remember chopping the furniture up for firewood and my wife looking at me as if I was crazy. But our heating was electric and I couldn’t pay my electricity bill, so we had to take the kids to sleep by the fireplace.” His wife left him, and in 1977 she took her own life. “I lost my first wife in this thing. But I’ll never be bitter toward anyone,” he said. “Not for the criticisms or the death threats or anything. If I’m bitter, they win.”

Peter Norman’s time of 20.06 remains an Australian record, and would have won the gold medal in two of the past three Olympics. He continued to race, competing in the 1970 Commonwealth Games, but even though he comfortably reached qualifying standards in 1972 for both the 100m and 200m, for which he was at the time ranked No5 in the world, he was not selected, and Australia travelled to Munich with no sprinters at all. When the Olympics were held in Sydney in 2000 notable Australian former medallists were invited to take part in a ceremony at the Olympic Stadium; Norman was not among them. He made it to the stadium only after officials from US Track & Field heard of their plight and stepped in. “They treated us like royalty,” said his second wife, Jan (his first marriage also failed after 1968). When Norman died in 2006, Smith and Carlos acted as pallbearers. “He didn’t raise his fist,” Smith said, “but he did lend a hand.”

The redemption of Smith and Carlos started in 1983, when the president of the organising committee of the Los Angeles Games, Peter Ueberroth, hired Carlos as special consultant on minority affairs. Ueberroth personally handled the resulting storm of protest, but Carlos’s work was later seen as one of the key factors behind the success of the Games.

Looking back at the bad times, Carlos has said: “If I’ve got to take a whuppin’ for something I believe in, I’ll take that whuppin’.”

What the Guardian said: 18 October 1968

Although every athletics expert was aware that the United States Negro athletes might protest, the manner of it surprised many in the Olympic Stadium here last night.

It was more restrained and yet more effective than some had thought. There was the possibility that Tommie Smith or John Carlos, overwhelming favourites for the sprint events, might refuse to appear at the medals ceremony. In fact, both showed a keen awareness of the publicity values involved, and their appearance in black socks and black scarves, and each with a single black glove, Smith’s on the right hand, Carlos’s on the left, showed a knowledge of public relations equalled only by Cassius Clay, now Muhammad Ali

At the press conference afterwards, the same awareness was apparent. The representatives of the world’s press crowded into a room perhaps 40 feet by 30. The organisation insisted that questions and replies were put in English, Spanish and French.

International press conferences usually begin with pussy-footing questions of remarkable banality. The first question to Carlos was why he looked over his left shoulder and whether it cost him second place – a good technical question but utterly remote from the emotional context of the occasion …

Questions concerning which coach had meant most to Smith were hooted off court by all except the conscientious interpreters. Finally Carlos lost patience and burst out with the statement: “We are black and we are proud to be black in white America.”

Black Americans, he said, would understand the nature of their demonstration.

“We are not a show horse doing a performance, so if we do a good job we get paid some peanuts. All through these Olympics I hear them say ‘Boy, boy, boy, you’re doing well.’ I am tired of that. I want the whole press of the world to hear what I say and either say it as I say it or not say it at all.”

… The US team officials were obviously left with a problem. What, if any, disciplinary action would be taken. “I’d pack them all back home,” one British official said trenchantly. He perhaps has no White House to deal with.

SJSU student Darcie Anderson is swimming in a pool wearing her SJSU swimming cap and goggles.

Andrerson, Trammell Qualify For Olympic Trials

SJSU Spartan Darcie Anderson is swimming in a pool wearing her SJSU swimming cap and goggles.

Darcie Anderson is headed to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100 breaststroke. (Photo by Terrell Lloyd)

Senior Kirsten Trammell and sophomore Darcie Anderson of the San Jose State University women’s swimming and diving team swam qualifying times in the 100 breaststroke for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team trials at the AT&T Winter National Championships.

Trammell (Goodyear, Ariz./Xavier College Prep) was timed in 1:11.30 and Anderson (Willows, Calif./Orland HS) in 1:11.31 in the long course preliminary heats at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center. The qualifying time for the Olympic Team trials next June in Omaha, Neb., is 1:12.19.

In the 100 breaststroke final (courtesy of USA Swimming & youtube.com) later in the day, Anderson posted a faster time of 1:11.29 to finish in 23rd place. Trammell placed in 26th place with a 1:12.04 time.

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