Thursday, October 2, 2008

πετρος Ueberroth in the News

I just learned the name Peter comes from the Greek word, πετρος (petros) or "stone" or "rock."

Its a fitting name for Peter Ueberroth, who was born the same day as modern Olympic founder Pierre de Frédy -- Baron de Coubertin died (handing off the torch?).

Ueberroth was in the news today -- the New York Times to be precise -- as his tenure in an official leadership role at the U.S. Olympic Committee may soon come to a close. He's used to headlines, methinks (being Time magazine's "Man of the Year" in 1984 and all), through staging one of the most successful Olympiads in history at Los Angeles.

Mr. Ueberroth is one of the good guys. He was also kind to an awkward 15 year old in Oklahoma City when I approached him requesting an autograph in my copy of "Made In America: His Own Story" (Ueberroth's autobiography of how they pulled off the Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad). He was about to go on stage to speak to a packed house of potential sponsors for OKC's U.S. Olympic Festival '89 (it was 22 June 1988), so my timing could not have been worse, but he was very polite and answered all of my silly questions before personalizing that book (if located at home I'll eventually scan it and add to this post).

Those few moments were a big inspiration for me. Ueberroth's remarks to me, and on stage that night, helped solidify some of my Olympic aspirations, in the short term leading me to double my volunteer time at the U.S. Olympic Festival (more on that in future posts), and in the long run serving as a reminder of 'what the Olympics is all about' when some efforts to get involved with the Games have hit a snag.

I've had other opportunities to speak briefly with Ueberroth since then -- once in 1996 (during the ACOG days for Atlanta), again in 2004 and just a few weeks ago at USA House in China. He was consistently cordial, just as he was in 1989. Rock solid Olympic values. It's too bad things have to wind down for his involvement with the U.S.O.C. (though not entirely a surprise as he is now 71).

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