Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’m looking forward to the Summer Olympics in London. With football still a few months off, I’m hoping this bridges the gap in my sports lineup card.
When I think about my favorite Olympic moment, I immediately go to Lake Placid and the 1980 Winter Games, where the U.S. hockey team pulled off perhaps the biggest upset in sports history by knocking off the Soviet Union.
When I think about my favorite moment related to an Auburn athlete, I go all the way back to 1976 and Harvey Glance. Chances are, you’ve never heard of the Phenix City, Alabama native.
Unfortunately, he’s best known among Auburn people for leaving his job as track and field coach and taking the same position at Alabama – a post he held until last year.
As a student on the Plains, Glance was the most decorated track and field athlete in the country. He won the 100m NCAA Championship in 1976 and 1977. He added the 200m national title in 1977. When he left Auburn, he held the world record in the 100m dash.
While finishing a disappointing fourth in the 100m race at the Montreal Olympics, Glance came back and ran the opening leg of the 4X100m relay race, helping the United States grab the gold medal.
It was the most exciting few moments of my life watching him win that gold medal.
As a seven-year-old, Glance was my hero above all others. He was from hometown, attended the same high school I would eventually graduate from, and was an All-American at Auburn.
I remember going to watch him at high school track meets – something I haven’t done since that time. Even as a senior in high school, everybody knew this Glance kid was something special.
My most vivid memory of him was not on the track, but in the parking lot at Central High School. I watched him jump a Volkswagen Beatle flat-footed. I saw it with my own eyes. It was the damndest thing I believe I’ve ever seen in my life. He was the Bo Jackson of track and field.
Glance’s track career had something of a sad ending. Heading into the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, he was among the favorites to win in the 100m and 200m races. This was to be his moment.
In a sad twist, President Jimmy Carter decided to boycott the Olympic Games in protest over the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan. Glance’s career was pretty much over, though he did compete for several years following the Moscow Olympics.
Glance was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.
What’s your favorite Olympic moment?
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