It must have been the biggest Canadian flag to fly at an Olympic event. Slung from a balcony at the Olympic Indoor Swimming Pool, it marked a big accomplishment—the first time that a woman from Canada had won two gold medals at the Games. “I am so happy,” declared Carolyn Waldo of Calgary after she and her partner, Michelle Cameron, finished first in the synchronized swimming duet at Seoul last week.
The day before, Waldo, 23, dripping but still resplendent in a sequined pink swimsuit, had covered her face to hide the tears welling out of control at the announcement of her first-place finish—and the gold medal—in the solo synchronized swim.
The synchronized sweep—and a gold medal for Kitchener, Ont., superheavyweight boxer Lennox Lewis on Sunday in Seoul—restored, at least in part, a nation’s bruised pride. In addition, as the Games drew to a close, there was another major breakthrough for Canada: an unexpected bronze in the gruelling decathlon by David Steen, a 28-yearold native of Burnaby, B.C., who now can proudly lay claim to being the third-best all-around athlete in the world. Said Waldo before her event:
“It was a disappointment hearing about Ben Johnson. But it has given us more of a spark to go in there and win gold medals for Canada.”
There also were silver medals for boxer Egerton Marcus and for Canada’s men’s medley relay swimmers.
As well, the Seoul Equestrian Park produced bronze for Canada’s fourperson dressage team—although Ian Millar riding on Big Ben finished out of the medal count. In the turbulent waters of Pusan Bay, 160 km southwest of Seoul, another pair of bronzes for Flying Dutchman sailors went to Frank McLaughlin and John Millen of Toronto’s Royal Canadian Yacht Club.
There were other surprises—and disappointments. Among them was the defeat of the U.S. men’s basketball team by the Soviet Union. The Americans, having lost only one game ever in Olympic competition, entrusted
their winning tradition to a squad of college all-stars, many with National Basketball Association contracts awaiting them at home. But the Soviets, who defeated the United States in a controversial Olympic game in 1972, spoiled the party again—beating the
Americans in their semifinal match. Later, the Soviets, led by seven-foot, three-inch Arvidas Sabonis, defeated Yugoslavia for the gold.
Still, American pride was restored by the studied glamor and explosive power of Florence Griffith-Joyner. The 28-year-old Grif-
fith-Joyner, who held the world record in the 100-m sprint when the Games began, broke the world mark twice last week in the 200 m. After she lowered the record to 21.56 seconds from 21.71 in the semifinals, her husband and coach, AÍ Joyner, said of the final, “If she doesn’t break the record again, she’ll do something unbelievable.” Indeed, she did. A smile spreading across her face over the last 10 m, Griffith-Joyner—the field straggling far behind—crossed the line in 21.34 seconds.
With two individual golds, and a gold in the 4 x 100-m relay and a silver in the 4 x 400 m, Griffith-Joyner stole the American spotlight from Carl Lewis. Having been given Ben Johnson’s gold in the 100 m during a private ceremony—he thus became the first Olympian to win back-to-back 100-m golds—Lewis’s dream of repeating his 1984 four-gold performance vanished when he had to settle for the silver in the 200 m behind teammate Joe DeLoach. Lewis repeated in the long jump—another Olympic first—but ironically lost his chance for a third gold in the 4 x 100-m relay when the U.S. team—with him out of the lineup until the finals—was disqualified for an illegal baton pass during a qualifying heat.
And as the Games ended amid pomp and fanfare, the widening ripples of the doping controversy touched other athletes. The controversy even briefly smeared track queen Griffith-Joyner, a devout Baptist fundamentalist. Brazilian runner Joaquina Cruz publicly accused her of using steroids. Responded GriffithJoyner: “I was hurt but I read my Bible every day and found out that people are going to make accusations like that. Because of the Ben Johnson situation, people were just looking to point fingers at somebody else.” Indeed, from the moment Johnson’s test results were made public, fingers pointed at the Canadian team, particularly toward Johnson’s Mazda track club teammates, all coached by Charlie Francis. One of them, Mark McKoy—the world’s fastest inm door short-track hurdler—abruptly I left Seoul in midweek, forcing the I Canadian men’s 4 x 100-m relay 1 squad to improvise again on its way ^ to the finals and a seventh-place £ finish.
The Seoul Games left a mixed legacy for others. Athletes from Australia, Britain, Bulgaria, Hungary and Spain left Seoul after failing drug tests. It was an uneasy ending to Games that began amid a celebration of peace and harmony. World records had fallen and new heroes had emerged, but the Games of 1988 remained flawed and tarnished.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.