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Back when colluding with U.S.S.R. was cool

Senior Moments

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POSTED: July 15, 2017 10:30 a.m.
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Rich DeLong is executive director of Station Exchange Senior Care.

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I have a confession. I’m pretty sure this is going to rock the world; or at least a section of Bryan County.

Up until our recent election, I didn’t feel the need to divulge this sensitive information. I pray that this will not bring further examination and scrutiny to our president.

In the fall of 1978, I was a member of a delegation that hosted the Russian Olympic Wrestling Team. It was an honor to host the "red" grapplers for dinner and hear about their tour of our state and their various matches with some of our local colleges and universities. Pennsylvania was, and continues to be, a hotbed for competitive wrestling.

I noted that every Russian wrestler suffered from something we in the sports world call cauliflower ear. In the good ol’ USA we wear headgear that protects the wrestler from damage to his ears and head. The Russians did not and hence developed masses of skin over their ears that resembled cauliflowers.

The damage is brought on by repeated blows to the side of the head and is irreversible and unsightly; although one could tell the team considered them badges of honor.

The conversations we had were limited in part to our lack of knowledge for each other’s language. I did a lot nodding and smiling. For all I know they could have been indicating how they were going to help the U.S. elect Donald Trump in 38 years.

Uh oh, surely I had no part in this collusion effort that far back?

Due to Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, then-President Carter ordered a boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics, which were in Moscow. It was the first time the Olympics were ever staged in a communist nation. The host squad ended up with 17 medals out of the 20 weight classifications in the two styles of wrestling (Greco-Roman and freestyle); 12 Gold, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze.

They also won the overall Games with 195 total medals. It was the most-skewed tally since 1904.

Most of the country supported the boycott, but not U.S. olympians.

"Any boycott isn’t going to change the Soviets’ mind and isn’t going to get troops out of Afghanistan," complained Julian Roosevelt, an American member of the International Olympic Committee. "I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but the patriotic thing to do is for us to send a team over there and whip their ass."

Al Oerter, a four-time gold medalist in the discus who was trying to make a comeback at age 42, agreed: "The only way to compete against Moscow is to stuff it down their throats in their own backyard."

Wow! Is it me or does that sound a little like Donald himself?

OK, I think it’s time for full disclosure. I guess I also need to admit that years earlier I became a big fan of a band from Liverpool, England. They wrote and sang a song with the title "Back in the USSR".

Uh oh. Is anyone else feeling a little warm right now?

Contact him at 912-531-7867 or email him at: SeniorMomentsWithRich@gmail.com

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