On the 13th floor of the National Press Building yesterday, world record triple jumper Willie Banks listened intently to the teachings of three-time triple jump gold medal winner Viktor Saneyev of the Soviet Union: "You have good technique," Saneyev told Banks through an interpreter. "You should work on preserving it."
Banks and Saneyev, along with U.S. Olympians Nancy Hogshead, Carol Lewis, Terry Schroeder and Rowdy Gaines, were in Washington as ambassadors for July's Goodwill Games in Moscow, conceived by Ted Turner and the first competition including the United States and Soviet Union since the 1976 Olympics. The purpose of the Games is to prevent future Olympic boycotts, and Banks and Saneyev were making a point. Said Hogshead, "When you get athletes together, political ideology doesn't mean a thing."
Said Saneyev: "It's a pity we didn't have a chance to meet each other in 1980. But now (Banks) will have a chance to meet other Russians, but unofficially, in the Goodwill Games."
The ambassadors, who stopped in Washington yesterday as part of a 20-city, international media tour, also attended a gymnastics demonstration at the District's Shiloh Family Life Center.
"It's not often we have an opportunity to make an impact on the world," said Schroeder, captain of the 1984 U.S. Olympic gold medal water polo team. "It's our chance to make a statement and put the shoe on the other foot. In the past, politicians have taken our dream away."
Lewis is hoping a successful Goodwill Games will encourage every country to compete in the 1988 Olympics. "It is a chance to show that the Soviets and Americans can compete, and it can go off without a hitch," she says. "We can say we got the Goodwill Games off without a hitch, why not the '88 Games?"