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Gold Medalist

Seoul—At his father’s funeral, American Carl Lewis placed his 100-meter gold medal from the 1984 Olympics in his father’s hands. “Don’t worry,” he told his surprised mother. “I’ll get another one.”

A year later, in the 100-meter final at the 1988 games, Lewis was competing against Canadian world-record-holder Ben Johnson. Halfway through the race Johnson was five feet in front. Lewis was convinced he could catch him. But at 80 meters, he was still five feet behind. It’s over, Dad, Lewis thought. As Johnson crossed the finish, he stared back at Lewis and thrust his right arm in the air, index finger extended. Lewis was exasperated. He had noticed Johnson’s bulging muscles and yellow-tinged eyes, both indications of steroid use. “I didn’t have the medal, but I could still give to my father by acting with class and dignity,” Lewis said later. He shook Johnson’s hand and left the track.

But then came the announcement that Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids. He was stripped of his medal. The gold went to Lewis, a replacement for the medal he had given his father.

David Wallechinsky in The Complete Book of the Olympics, Reader’s Digest