Mark Spitz remembers how he fled Munich after the terrorist attacks to swim

Mark Spitz. glory in Munich in 1972

– They put me and my coach in the back seat of the car and told me to curl up and put this blanket over me. After about five minutes I was told to sit down and we were taken to the airport and then on the plane to London.

Mark Spitz in the arena where he won seven golds in Munich — Photo: Olympic Channel

The former swimmer remembers hearing many rumors about his whereabouts.

– After the meeting, I was sitting in the Olympic Village, in my room, watching TV, and there were constant comments. About 20 minutes later. “No, that information was wrong, he is somewhere in Sweden.” I don’t know if they were saying that to get people out because I was still in my room in the Olympic Village. Have a clear plan. he remembers.

Munich 1972 Olympic Village attacked — Photo: McCabe/Getty Images

– On that day, I saw that the biggest sports event turned into a massacre, and it turned my perception of sports upside down. It took me 50 years to truly say that I now fully understand the true inspiration and power of sports.

Mark Spitz celebrates victory in Munich in 1972 (Photo: Getty Images)

50 years ago it was very common for swimmers to retire very young. Spitz had only a five-year career with a total of 32 records and 11 Olympic medals, adding to the 1968 in Mexico City and in 1972 Results recorded in Munich. He explains what it was like to end his career so early.

– My choice to stop competitive swimming was mainly made before 1972 because there was no professional swimming. I swam in college on scholarship for four years from 1968 to 1972. I was in and out of dental school, so I knew that most swimmers of my time retired between the ages of 21 and 23, depending on when the Olympics fell; – no matter how old they are. In my case it will be 22 in Munich and that’s when I decided I was going to retire,” he explained.

The new sensation of world swimming is 17-year-old Romanian David Popovic, who broke the world record in 100 m freestyle, which belonged to Cesar Cielo since 2009. two races in Budapest in June, in which Spitz also excelled;

– Obviously he’s a great swimmer and a great sprinter. They commented that he was the youngest swimmer ever to break the world record, I think, in the 100m freestyle. So I was asked the question, well, how old were you when you broke your first world record? I said, well, I was the world record holder in the 100-meter freestyle, but I was 21 years old when I set that world record, but I broke the world record, my first world record in the 400-meter freestyle, and I was 17 years and four months old, and he 17 years and 11 months,” he said.

Popovic holds the world record — Photo: Vasil Mihai-Antonio/Getty Images

– My suggestion to him is that he just got out of the hunter who is out there trying to catch a world record. Now everyone will hunt him. And that takes on a whole new set of responsibilities and expectations because people expect him to break records, to win races,” Spitz said.

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