Swimming World Presents “A Gross Injustice: How Rick DeMont Lost His 1972 Olympic Gold Days After Winning It”

SW August 2020 ta gross injustice - how rick demont lost his 1972 munich olympics days after winning it - 400m

A Gross Injustice: How Rick DeMont Lost His 1972 Olympic Gold Days After Winning It

By John Lohn

In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, 16-year-old Rick DeMont had won the 400 meter freestyle only to have his gold medal taken away several days later in one of the biggest injustices in Olympic history.

Other than being members of the Olympic fraternity, there was no reason why their names would be intertwined. They were born nearly 60 years apart. One was of Native-American lineage. The other was from northern California. One was a multi-sport star, his days as a decathlete followed by professional baseball and football careers. The other was a one-sport phenom, his attention focused on the pool.

But at the 1972 Olympic Games, a permanent link was established between Jim Thorpe and Rick DeMont. Albeit for different reasons, Thorpe and DeMont are Olympians who were stripped of their gold medals.

Thorpe is recognized as one of the greatest athletes in history, the gold medalist in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. He followed by playing Major League Baseball, and then flourished in the National Football League. However, Thorpe had his Olympic titles rescinded in 1913 when it was learned he played professional baseball before his Olympic appearance, a violation of the era’s strict rules governing amateurism.

In the case of DeMont, he headed to Munich as a precocious 16-year-old defined by beyond-his-years talent and innocence. Although he was a rising star for Team USA, DeMont was overshadowed by some of the sport’s biggest names, including Mark Spitz and John Hencken. But he was also a threat to reach the podium, due to his world-record prowess.

At the United States Olympic Trials in Chicago, held a month before the Olympics, DeMont made his presence known by qualifying for Munich in the 400 meter freestyle and by breaking the world record in the 1500. In the longer event, DeMont didn’t just clip the previous standard, he cut more than four seconds off the previous record.

As DeMont prepared for the Munich Games, he met with United States Olympic Committee officials as part of the athlete processing protocol. During the meeting, which included medical personnel, DeMont completed paperwork and noted he was an asthmatic who took medications (Marax, Actefed and Sudafed) to treat the condition.

…Not once during the meeting was a red flag raised!

To read the full story of how Rick DeMont lost his Olympic gold,
click here to download the August issue of Swimming World Magazine, available
now!

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Swimming World Magazine August 2020 Issue

FEATURES

014 OPPORTUNITY LOST
by Dan D’Addona
High school swimming has multiple seasons with roughly 130 state/sectional/divisional high school championship meets held as early as October or as late as May of the following year. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in mid-March, some high schools had already completed their championships, others saw their season canceled…while still others were interrupted during the middle of their meet! Here are a few examples of how the coronavirus affected high school swimming.

016 A GOOD INDICATOR OF FUTURE SUCCESS
by Andy Ross
Since Swimming World first honored its Male and Female High School Swimmers of the Year in 1997, 60 percent of those athletes have gone on to compete in the Olympics from 2000 through 2016.

019 TOP HIGH SCHOOL RECRUITS
by Chandler Brandes
Swimming World takes a look at the swimmers it considers to be the 10 best high school recruits—both male and female—from the Class of 2020 and where they’ll be attending college in the fall.

022 THE RECORD BREAKERS
by David Rieder
Nine high school swimmers from eight different states combined for 11 public or independent school records and eight overall national high school records—including three times in one event!

026 A GROSS INJUSTICE
by John Lohn
In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, 16-year-old Rick DeMont had won the 400 meter freestyle only to have his gold medal taken away several days later in one of the biggest injustices in Olympic history.

029 ISHOF: THE TOM AND MATT SHOW
by Bruce Wigo
As explained in last month’s issue,sprinters are considered a different breed of swimmer. They’re not just free spirits, but they seem to be rule breakers and troublemakers of the sport. In July, Swimming World featured two of swimming’s notorious female rebels, Eleanor Holm and Dawn Fraser. This month’s article takes a look at two male disruptors who paved the way for professional swimming, Tom Jager and Matt Biondi.

COACHING

012 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: DEVELOPMENT OF AN OPTIMAL MODEL FOR TECHNIQUE: PART VIII—BODY BASE OF SUPPORT FOR BREASTSTROKE
by Rod Havriluk
The torso is the swimmer’s base of support (BOS). During a stroke cycle of a typical breaststroker, excess vertical motion of the shoulder distorts the BOS, which compromises the ability to maximize propulsion and, as a result, limits swimming velocity. This article offers suggestions for how to stabilize the BOS to generate more propulsion to swim faster.

033 SUMMER LEAGUE: HAVING FUN AND GETTING THE WORK DONE
by Michael J. Stott
No matter what tomorrow or next year brings, one can hope that the benefits of summer league as we know them will persist.

035 SPECIAL SETS: TRAINING FROM TRIALS TO THE OLYMPIC GAMES
by Michael J. Stott
Through the voice of Michigan associate coach Josh White, this month’s “Special Sets” traces the training Connor Jaeger did in the period between the U.S. Olympic Trials to the Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016.

041 Q&A WITH COACH NEIL HARPER
by Michael J. Stott

042 HOW THEY TRAIN ANNA HOPKIN
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

010 DRYSIDE TRAINING: EXERCISES FOR EXPLOSIVE STARTS & TURNS
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

039 GOLDMINDS: HOW TO BECOME AN “A” SWIMMER
by Wayne Goldsmith
Ultimately, success comes to those amazing people who make the decision to be successful and who then live that decision in practice and performance—in and out of the pool—until they realize their potential.

045 UP & COMERS: ABBY REICH
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

032 DID YOU KNOW? PETER JACKSON: “THE BLACK PRINCE”

046 GUTTERTALK

048 PARTING SHOT

3 comments

  1. avatar
    sebastian

    If there is any consolation (I can’t imagine that there could be), it is the fact that one year after Munich, Demont achieved a double “first”. He became the first World Champion in the 400 AND was the first human to swim the 400 under the once invincible 4-minute barrier – all in the same race. These achievements can never replace the ultimate thrill of winning an Olympic gold medal, but he still is in the history books as a result of a remarkable swim back in the 1973 Belgrade World Championships.

  2. avatar
    John. Newman

    GIVE THE SWIMMER HIS DUE!! If he (she) WAS THE FASTEST AND NO DRUGS INVOLVED….grant the title and the medal!!

  3. avatar
    John. Newman

    GIVE THE SWIMMER HIS DUE!! If he (she) WAS THE FASTEST AND NO DRUGS INVOLVED….grant the title and the medal!!

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