Friday, April 23, 2010

Adios, Juan Antonio Samaranch

Yesterday morning, while awaiting a flight from Maui to Oahu, an email arrived from a colleague who noted the passing of Juan Antonio Samaranch, the former International Olympic Committee president. Sad news -- first read the initial headlines, then today's New York Times obituary for more details.

Samaranch is one Olympic V.I.P. who I always wanted to meet but never did. Probably the closest opportunity was in the Atlanta Olympic Village (we heard he was visiting, but we were not able to get to the area of Samaranch's arrival).

I first learned of J.A.S. during the late 1980s and early 1990s via a couple of TV documentaries regarding the I.O.C. Also, Peter Ueberroth's book on the 1984 Games delves into great detail about Samaranch, which established in my mind that the Spanish-born Olympic leader was a hero for the Olympic Movement for his willingness to take risks.

The day that changed my life and the lives of tens of thousands came in the fall of 1990, when Samaranch's accent proclaimed "AT-Lan-Tah" the host of the Centennial Games.

Inspired by the Barcelona Olympics of 1992, and some research of the Olympic bid process for the 2000 Sydney Games, in 1993 I wrote a letter to Samaranch at the IOC address, and to my surprise and delight, several weeks later, a response arrived in the form of a personalized J.A.S. business card and I.O.C. pin, which remain proudly displayed on my home office shelves.

It's been disappointing, thought not entirely surprising, to find few media reports about Samaranch that really delve into the vast ranch of influence and progress Samaranch helped bring to the Olympic Family. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Samaranch's Olympic collections (I understand his Olympic philately efforts were unsurpassed) and how the I.O.C. will honor and memorialize Samaranch in the near and distant future.

Photo via this blog


Anonymous said...

Subtlety is better than force. ..................................................

Anonymous said...
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