Canadian Olympic teams have always been able to depend on thrilling
performances by our swimmers.
The names of Alex Baumann, Victor Davis, Anne Ottenbreit, Elaine (Mighty
Mouse) Tanner, Bruce Robertson, Leslie Cliff, Nancy Garapick and others
flashed in front of my eyes as I tried to recollect their achievements.
With the Sydney Olympics fast approaching and the recent impressive
performances by our swimmers at the Canadian championships in Montreal, it
became quite evident that a new group of talented Canadian swimmers is on the
horizon. Led by Calgary's Curtis Myden, Joanne Malar of Hamilton and Marianne
Limpert of Fredricton, our hopes for the future are bright.
However, they won't be the only Canadian swimmers we can pin our hopes on
in Sydney. Others, such as Andrew Hurd of Oakville in the 1,500 metres;
Calgary's Morgan Knabe in the 100 and 200 breaststroke; Kelly Stefanyshyn of
Winnipeg in the 100 and 200 backstroke, as well as Brian Jones of Richmond,
B.C., in the 200 individual medley and Rick Say of Victoria in the 200 and 400
freestyle, could do reasonably well.
As names from the past swam down my memory lane, the names of Robertson and
Cliff are still the two who bring out a smile on my face when I begin thinking
about the Olympics. Particularly the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.
It was not an occasion for smiling when Palestinian terrorists gunned down
11 members of the Israeli team and were themselves later destroyed. But what
made me smile was the aftermath of Robertson's and Cliff's silver
medal-winning performances, something that could happen for Canada in Sydney.
Cliff had collected the silver medal for her second-place finish in the
400-metre individual medley. She was about to pass the drug test when she
realized that Robertson, who won a silver in the 100-metre butterfly, hadn't
shown up at the doping centre. She knew that all medal winners had to pass the
Normally, 17-year-old girls might panic under the circumstances. Not Leslie
Cliff. She motioned to Canadian teammate Ralph Hutton to go and find
Robertson, while she entered the testing room to offer a urine sample.
Like a veteran actress, she began feigning an inability to perform the
task. At first she asked for a soft drink, only to sip on it slowly. She
pretended to try the test again, but was unsuccessful. Frustrated officials
brought her a case of soft drinks. She sipped away, but still no luck.
Meanwhile, Hutton and a couple of other Canadian swimmers took off for
downtown Munich to find Robertson, who was celebrating his silver medal in a
pub and forgot about the doping test. The laboratory staff was getting nervous
because they normally closed at 10.30 p.m. That night, the clock showed nearly
Fortunately, the Canadian search party located Robertson in the
Hofbrauhaus, Munich's famous beer tavern. He was in a happy mood, thanks to
the medal and--a few beers. The search party rushed him back to the doping
centre, where he gave the wanted sample. They found no illicit drugs, only
traces of beer.
Meanwhile, a contended Leslie Cliff didn't have to put her kidneys and
bladder to a further test. She knew Robertson was clean and beer wasn't on the
banned list. Her test, of course, was negative.
Even veteran reporters heaved a sigh of relief when Robertson showed up and
passed the test, because an American, Rick DeMont, didn't and became the first
swimmer in history to get nailed.
DeMont won a gold medal and had it taken away for using a drug to battle
asthma, something he admitted on his entry form and what his doctor confirmed.
It didn't help him, though.
Wonder if, for a change, any of our swimmers will put us to a test in