Aug 31, 2020
You've heard the story of Frank Shorter and how he was robbed of a second gold medal in the 1976 Olympic Marathon (discussed in episode 15). But, have you heard the story of the fourth place finisher that day - American Don Kardong. He finished just 3 seconds out of bronze on that day and should be the rightful holder of that medal after the winner Waldemar Cierpinski was later implicated in a state-sponsored doping program in East Germany.
Even though the International Olympic Committee has acknowledged that cheating occurred, they have yet to correct the record because the statute of limitations has expired. Now 71 years old, Don still waits for his rightly-deserved medal. In this episode, Chris and Kara catch up with Don to hear his side of the story.
We discuss his beginnings in the sport when he joined cross country to stay fit for the basketball team. We hear about his decorated career at Stanford racing rival Steve Prefontaine from Oregon. Post-collegiately, Don shares how he continued to train to make the Olympic team, running two-a-days while working full-time as a 6th grade teacher in Spokane. He talks about making the 1976 Olympic team with Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers but how no one expected him to perform well at the Games. He then gives all of the details of that bittersweet day in 1976 in Montreal including what he felt like during, immediately after, and of course nearly 2 decades later when he learned the news of Cierpinski's cheating.
Even though he was robbed on that day, Don has gone on to play so many important roles in our sport as a writer for Runner's World, President of the Road Runners Club of America, and founder and race director of the Lilac Bloomsday Run, one of the largest road races in the country. He also continues to give back to clean sport by helping race directors initiate drug testing programs through the Professional Road Running Organization (PRRO).
Because it is never too late to do the right thing, we want to see Don awarded his medal. He deserved it then, and he definitely deserves it now. Thank you to Don for sharing his story with us.