About Utah: Former BYU javelin thrower Richard George will be honored, no regrets for this Utah sports star
Richard had never seen that happen before. Neither had the officials. They didn't know what to do. Should they allow the Russian another throw? Should it come now or later? Arguing commenced. There was a language problem. Someone went for an interpreter.
An hour later, they finally told Richard, without warning, to go ahead and throw. He wasn't warm anymore. He didn't come near 288 feet. He didn't qualify for the finals. He sat on the sidelines and watched Mikos Nemeth of Hungary, a month shy of turning 30, set a world record of 310 feet to claim the gold medal. Second place was 286 feet.
Richard came back for his senior year at BYU in 1976. A new football coach named LaVell Edwards had revolutionized the football program, with a focus on quarterbacks. But Richard's football days were over. After the track season, so were his track days. The business school at Harvard had sent him an acceptance letter. He was newly married; he needed to be practical. He packed up his javelin and put it away in the garage.
He got that graduate degree at Harvard and used it to forge a successful business career that currently has him at the helm of a biotech company that is developing drugs for cancer and autoimmunity. He and his musician wife Jennifer have raised six children, three girls and three boys, all with their own unique pedigrees (and all planning on watching their dad's induction ceremony).
Almost 40 years later, Richard says he never looks back on what might have been; only at what has come to pass.
"There was a time when I was determined to set the world record in the javelin and I'm almost certain I could have done it. I quit probably eight years too soon," he says. "But there's no way I could have competed at such a high level and maintained all the other things I wanted and needed to do with my life. Life is full of decisions. I've been lucky; I've always had really great options to choose from."
Lee Benson's About Utah column runs Monday and Friday.
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