The most competitive Olympic Games in history have come to a close. They ended last night while America was asleep. As we speak, 10,000 athletes from 161 nations are at Kimpo Airport, trying to figure out how to get their fake Rolex watches through customs.A few athletes left early. The entire Bulgarian and Hungarian weightlifting teams, for example, who didn't realize sprinkling stanozolol on their oatmeal was a no-no, and of course Ben Johnson, for the same reason. When last seen, Johnson was in his driveway in Toronto washing his car - in record time.
They'll probably not be remembered as the Fun & Games of the 24th Olympiad. Probably because they were too close to the demilitarized zone for comfort. Or because of the drugs, or because of all the metal detectors, or because the host nation was somewhat uptight. No sooner had the American team entered Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremonies like it was on spring break than the East-West battle was on.
Anyway, the Games were mostly serious stuff, and, in the Oriental spirit of yin and yang, fraught with bad balanced out by good, or vice versa.
Yin: Greg Lougainis hits his head on the diving board.
Yang: Lougainis comes back to win the gold medal.
Yang: Ben Johnson wins the 100-meter dash in
Yin: Johnson tests positive for steroids and is disqualified.
Yang: Carl Lewis gets Johnson's gold medal.
Yin: Lewis doesn't get to run in the 4x100 relay because the U.S. B team botches a handoff.
Yin: The Soviet basketball team loses badly to Yugoslavia.
Yang: The Soviet basketball team beats the United States.
Yin: The Koreans have their worst moment of the Games when they riot in protest of an early round bantamweight boxing loss.
Yang: Korean boxers win two gold medals, the most in the country's history _ both on favorable judges' decisions.
Yang: Troy Dalbey, BYU-student-to-be, wins two gold medals in swimming.
Yin: Dalbey tries his hand at redecorating the walls of a downtown hotel and spends many hours in conversation with Seoul police.
Yang: The U.S. boxing team starts off with a first-round KO loss and a disqualified fighter who couldn't get to the arena on time.
Yin: The U.S. boxing team has its most successful all-comers Olympics since 1976.
For some, it was all upbeat. East German swimmer Kristin Otto entered six races and won six gold medals. U.S. swimmer Matt Biondi entered seven races and won five golds, one silver and one bronze. U.S. swimmer Janet Evans entered three races and won three golds.
Florence Griffith Joyner ran in a league all her own in the women's sprints; her sister-in-law, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, became the first lady of women's track & field, and hurdler Andre Phillips was so stunned when he finally passed Edwin Moses that he was at a loss for words.
Soviet all-around gymnastics champion Elena Chouchounova had some perfect yangs.
Going into the Closing Ceremonies, the Games passed peacefully. The only minor collision was West meeting East.
For the first time in 16 years, countries from both sides of the Iron Curtain, and from the African continent, got together for an Olympics.
Sometimes, things got lost in the translation. Like at the swimming pool when Krisztina Egerszegi of Hungary, the silver medalist in the 100-meter backstroke to East Germany's Kristin Otto, was asked by a reporter the following question: "How do you salute a great swimmer like Kristin Otto?"
The translation went from English to French to Korean and finally to Hungarian. By that time, the question Egerszegi heard was: "How do you say hello to Kristin Otto?"
With a "that's-the-dumbest-question-I've-ever-heard" look on her face she waved and answered, "Hi."
On the quote sheet distributed to the press, the question and answer were dutifully reported exactly as above.
The Seoul Olympics got the world together - and let them work it out from there.