Foreman Honored at Summer’s U.S. Olympic Trials
Reliving the Moscow Boycott
Ken Foreman, for whom the track on SPU's Wallace Field is named, talks with future world-record holder Doris Severtsen.
Ken Foreman coached at numerous Olympics. But he was recently honored for the Summer Games he didn’t attend.
A fixture for 38 years as the head track and field coach at Seattle Pacific University until he retired in 1999, Foreman was also prominent on track ovals worldwide. His many coaching roles included serving on the staff of the 1980 United States Olympic team that was scheduled to compete in Moscow before the U.S. boycotted the event.
The members of that 1980 U.S. track and field squad were recognized this past summer during the Olympic Trials held in Eugene, Oregon. Hayward Field hosted the track trials for the first time since 1980, and festivities paid tribute to the nearly 100 U.S. members of the Moscow Olympic team who attended. They were all introduced at the opening ceremonies.
“The Eugene experience was a highlight for most who were there,” says Foreman. “No other team has had a similar experience: first the boycott, and then the unbelievable recognition as Olympians.”
Foreman, the keynote speaker at a large banquet before the trials, came away with mixed emotions. “It was one of the finest experiences of my professional life,” he recalls. “But it was hard to see athletes, with tears running down their cheeks, say what a great tragedy it had been in their lives and yet how good it was to be able to come back and meet with their colleagues. It was bittersweet.”
Back in 1980, the U.S. contingent exchanged a trip to Moscow to compete for medals with a visit to the White House to receive rarely issued Congressional gold medals. Members of the delegation had the opportunity to greet President Jimmy Carter, who instituted the boycott.
Not in the mood to exchange pleasantries, Foreman spoke his mind to the most powerful man in the world. “I have a picture on the wall in my office of me shaking hands with the president, with his wife standing behind him,” he describes. “Her mouth is open because I shook his hand and said, ‘You made a terrible mistake, Mr. President.’”
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