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Bend runner reflects on Olympics boycott, injury


It was 32 years ago that the Summer Olympics in Moscow were boycotted by America and 64 other countries.

Many Olympic hopefuls were forced to wait another four years for a chance to represent their country in the games. Bend resident John Lodwick was one of them.

Running was not a childhood dream for Lodwick.

“I started running when I was a junior in high school,” Lodwick said recently. “It was the result of getting cut from the basketball team.”

Lodwick learned quickly that running was his natural talent. He said he even ran his first marathon his senior year of high school, and it was the first of many Lodwick would compete in.

He said his first serious marathon was in Dallas in the fall of 1976.

“A friend of mine who had been my roommate in college, and then at the time we were in seminary, we both ran in the Dallas White Rock Marathon, and did pretty well in that race,” Lodwick said. “Then Nike started sending us shoes and stuff, so we thought, ‘We are going to keep this up.'”

Soon after Lodwick’s Nike sponsorship began, he was asked by the company to begin training with a group of elite distance runners for the 1980 Olympics.

He agreed and began training in Eugene with the Nick Athletics West team. But just seven months into that training, Lodwick and the rest of his team heard the bad news: President Jimmy Carter had decided America would boycott the Olympics over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

“You know, that took a little bit of incentive out of some of the runners,” Lodwick said.

Regardless the marathon trials continued on May 24, 1980 in Buffalo, N.Y., and many competed, even knowing the Olympic team would not be going to Moscow.

Lodwick was one of those who said he wanted to run, regardless of everything, but the race did not go as Lodwick had planned.

“The week before the trials I ruptured the planter fascia of my left arch, and so for the whole next week going into the trials I didn’t run at all,” Lodwick said. “I was in the swimming pool, just, you know, hoping that there might be some relief there, that there might be some healing that was really quick.”

“So I ran in the trials in 1980, but dropped out, and was unable to finish,” he said.

Lodwick actually used the setback as encouragement to continue his training, and to try for the Olympic team again in 1984 for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, Lodwick once again did not make the Olympic team.

“I ran in the trials again, I just was over-trained, I wanted it too bad, I guess.” he said. “I did everything I could, I thought, to try and be ready to make that team.”

This was the last time Lodwick would try for the Olympic team. But he still runs regularly, and he says he will be cheering on this year’s Olympic athletes.

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