For many American athletes, the United States' boycott of last year's Olympic games in Moscow was a rude disruption of their athletic lives. For others, it was an end.
Now, one year after the boycott that was intended as a national statement to protest Soviet military presence in Afghanistan, Soviet troops are still there.
One year later, Jimmy Carter is out of office.
And one year later, a United States track and field team, many of whose athletes were on the Olympic team, competed against a Soviet team in Leningrad.
The Olympic athletes can now only speculate on how they might have performed. For some, the boycott made hardly any difference at all.
For instance, Maryland's Buck Williams, a member of the men's basketball team, should get a substantial contract from the New Jersey Nets after being selected third in a recent NBA draft.
A number of Olympians, whose involvement in the boycott differed as much as the turns their athletic lives have taken since then, recently spoke with The Washington Post about the effects of the boycott.
Bob Coffman, the world's No. 1 decathlete at the time of the Olympics, may have been hurt financially the most by the boycott. He stood to become the country's next Bruce Jenner. Endorsements worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, television contracts and the spotlight on the public speaking circuit might have been his if he had won the gold medal.
Now he sells real estate in Houston.
"I'll never forgive Jimmy Carter for what he did," said Coffman, 30. "He took away lives from 600 athletes. He took away everything we'd worked for."
Coffman had hoped to be the next in a string of Americans to win the decathlon. Bob Mathias, Rafer Johnson, Bill Toomey and Jenner all had used their Olympic vicotry in the decathlon to enhance off-the-track careers.
"I was 100 peracent against the boycott and I still am," Coffman said."Since the boycott I've reaffirmed my goals. I can't train any more because I've got to make money."
Winning the 1980 Olympics had been Coffman's goal since he placed ninth in the 1976 trials.
"Those four years were long," he said. "It took me two years just to get where I wanted to be, to better understand the techniques of the different events. Then I was on top for two years and won everything.
"Carter didn't know how much he asked us to give up."
What angers Coffman most is the way he thinks the usoc backed down in supporting the athletes.
"It was their job to stand behind the athletes, and they gave up," Coffman said. "Plus, my family spent $8,000 in reservations and tickets, and some of that is money they haven't been able to retrive. They held out to the last minute before pulling out. The USOC hasn't helped them any. We're settling this in the courts.
"I get very upset when I think about this."
Craig Virgin, the United States' best 10,000-meter runner, called the boycott a joke.
"The whole thing was a mess," Virgin said. "The administration put financial and political pressure on the USOC because it looked like it would buck the president's wishes. Then the State Department threatened to deny visas. They didn't want to look bad in the eyes of the world."
Virgin, a former Illinois star, prepared for the Games as well as any athlete. He set three personal records in the six days preceding the Olympic Games, including the fastest 10,000-meter time of 1980, a full 13.5 seconds faster than Miruts Yifter's winning time in Moscow.
"That's not to say I would have won the gold," Virgin said, "because a lot of tactics go into racing. But I was ready."
Virgin wants to try for the gold in 1984. Despite a movement by long-distance runners to turn professional with the Association of Road Racing Athletes, Virgin has chosen to retain his amateur status and international eligibility.
"You don't know how much the athletes' families go through to prepare them for the Olympics," Virgin said. "That's why my family and I attended the White House reception. Myself, I found some of the president's statements at the reception a bit unnerving, but the reception was as much for the families as for the athletes. I didn't want to take that away from my family."
For Tracy Caulkins, the Nashville swimmer who set 57 American records and five world marks before graduating from high school this spring, the boycott was a heartbreak.
"That's behind us now," said Ron Young, Caulkins' coach. "We've got new goals now. Tracy's starting at the University of Florida in the fall, and we've got out eye on the world championships (in Ecuador next July).
"We're not looking back at what we missed."
Edwin Moses, the 400-meter hurdler who had 63 straight victories in finals through early July, says the boycott cost him "at least seven digits. Minimum. Maybe not instantly, but things I could work with and develop for a long time. Set for life.
"But I still don't feel like I lost anything. It just wasn't there to be had."
Kurt Thomas, the first American male gymnast to win a gold medal in the world championships, supported the boycott.
"Going against it wouldn't have done our sport any good," said Thomas, who became his sport's selfdesignated spokesman in the months leading up to the USOC's decision. "Looking back, I'm glad that Carter didn't change his mind. If he had, the United States would really have looked bad."
Now a coach at Arizona State University, Thomas wasn't a member of the 1980 team. Instead of risking reinjuring his back in the Olympic trials that would not lead tot he Olympics, Thomas, a 1976 team member, retired from competition.
Since his retirement, Thomas has attained many of the things a gold medal would have brought him. He has endorsements, a summer gymnastics camp, an autobiography that has sold 30,000 copies, a contraact for color analysis with ABC television and engagements for clinics and public speaking.
Competing in Moscow -- after which he had planned to retire anyway -- would have capped an impressive career as the country's top gymnast.
"These Olympics would hve been my time to shine one last time," Thomas said. "I had just beaten the Rusians on floor exercise and parallel bars, so I was ready to go.
"The boycott actually hurt me less than the others. It was easier for the guys to take than the girls, because most of the guys are older and had had international experience.
Thomas said he tried to explain the country's boycott to the younger gymnasts.
"I wasn't against the decision of our country, because that's what it was," he said. "We go to the Olympics with our flag on our chests, we have our national anthem played. That's the Olympics, and the government's decision was made with an eye toward the future.
"I still sort of agree with the boycott."
What concerned diver Phil Boggs most was the way in which different sports would rebound from the setback.
"I know that diving was sincerely damaged byloss of funding, from losing television revenues that help run our programs," Boggs said. "We've had to scramble to get alternative fundign, but some aspects of our program have already gone by the wayside.
"Our developmental program has suffered. We wanted to hold clinics to benefit in-country training, and to teach diving fundamentals. Some of these clinics were postponed and some were canceled."
Boggs, 31, now a lawyer in Miami, had won a gold medal for the three-meter springboard in the 1976 Olympics. Like Thomas, he retired before the trials because he didn't want to risk injury.
"If the actual Olympics had been on the line, the trials would have taken a different turn. Some of the divers who did qualify for the team might not have."
Boggs, the diving representative to the USOC, disliked the boycott but voted not to send a team to Moscow. He had been among a group of athletes invited to a prevote briefing at the White House.
"There was a bitterness by athletes because the boycott idea had come right from the blue, with no warning, no previous conversation," Boggs said. "There was no understanding on the adminsitration's part of what impact their decision would have an amateur sports. As athletes we were shut out. There was a problem of communication.
"I guess only history will bear out the boycott as a good move, if it was that," Boggs said. "I don't know -- it may have kept the United States from war. You can't tell. What Carter did may have been the best thing as a country's statement. You can't tell."