Memory Games

While an Olympic competition sometimes takes just minutes, the afterglow can last a lifetime.
July 27, 2008
Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades | 2008 Photos by Keith Barraclough | Audio by Whitney Shefte | Q&A, Monday

Wendy Weinberg, 50

McLean
Bronze medalist, 800-meter freestyle, 1976 Olympics (Montreal).


IN MONTREAL, WE WALKED INTO THE LOCKER ROOM, AND WE HEARD MEN'S VOICES. We froze. Then we realized it was the East German women. Anyone who knew anything about the effects of testosterone could look at them and know that they were doping. In the ready room, they would stare you down or go pump up their muscles. They were intimidating.

At the finals, I was in third from the start and stayed in third the entire time. But I was thrilled to get the bronze. Nothing can compare to walking up to the awards podium, watching the flags go up. It was worth every second of training. Even so, this whole "what if?" hangs over the entire team. We were competing against people with an unfair advantage. What if they hadn't done it? Where would we have placed?

Nobody gets to the Olympics by luck. I don't think I realized for years after just how much I'd put in to get there. And it's not just training. You figure out what you need to do, set goals and follow through.

I got married when I was 27, and I had three children. They all did multiple sports and got a lot of benefit from it, but none really excelled. None of them are as focused or driven as I was. [It's] the most frustrating part of having kids. I think everyone needs to have something they focus on.

Fast Forward

Under her married name, Wendy Weil is a physical therapist in private practice in McLean. Efforts by the U.S. Olympic Committee to revise Olympic standings in cases affected by the East German doping program of the 1970s and '80s were rebuffed by the International Olympic Committee.

Related

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Q&A, Monday
The author and the athletes take your questions and comments.
Countdown to Beijing
Read full coverage of the 2008 Olympics.

PHOTOS: Current Photography by Keith Barraclough, 1978 Photograph from Circus Magazine/Courtesy Wendy Weil; AUDIO: Whitney Shefte WEB EDITOR: Amanda McGrath - washingtonpost.com

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