Just before the 1980 Olympics, sports again played second fiddle to politics. Participation in the Russian games was very poor. The first Olympics in a social state took place under the dark clouds of the boycott of many western states who boycotted the Games in protest to Soviet troops marching into Afghanistan (1979).
Time and Place: Moscow (USSR); 19 July – 3 August 1980
Other candidates: Los Angeles
Participation: 80 countries, 5179 athletes
Number of sports: 21 sports, 203 events
Number of Slovenian athletes: 11
Fire lit by: Sergey Belov (basketball)
Games opened by: Leonid Brezhnev (President of the USSR)
Olympic oath: Nikolai Andrianov (gymnastics)
Trivia from the Moscow 1980 Summer Olympic Games
International disputes reached a peak in that year. United States of America and some western states boycotted the Games due to Russian troops marching into Afghanistan. Thus Moscow hosted even fewer countries than Rome in 1960. The Games, opened by Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, were marked by massive domination of Soviet athletes who collected gold medals easily.
Western countries called the Moscow games second rate. In answer to all the downplay and taunts, athletes achieved 36 world, 39 Olympic and 73 European records. Russian swimmer Vladimir Salnikov was the first to break the time of 15 minutes in 1500 meter freestyle. He also won gold in 400 meter freestyle and the 4x200 m relay. But his compatriot Alexander Dityatin was even more successful. The exceptional gymnast won medals in each and every discipline. He won three golds, four silvers and one bronze, becoming the first athlete to win 8 medals in one Olympics.
An interesting battle took place in track and field between Britons Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe. The great rivals first met in the 800 m race, where Ovett took the win. Coe retaliated by winning the 1500 m race with German Jürgen Straub coming in second between the two. Track and field competition were also marked by the amazing decathlon champion Daley Thompson.
Other heroes of the Games included swimmers Karen Metschuk, Barbara Krause, Rica Reinisch, kayaker Vladimir Parvenovich, German marathon runner Waldemar Cierpinski and of course Nicolai Andrianov. The exceptional Russian gymnast retired from active competition after his native Games with an extensive collection of medals. He won 15 medals between 1972 and 1980.
We should also mention that Moscow were the first Olympics for track and field athlete Merlene Ottey, who later competed for Slovenia in Athens. The Jamaican won bronze in the 200 meter race.
Slovenians and the 1984 Summer Olympics
The Moscow Olympics are remembered mostly by the boycott of America and its western allies, but they were also attended by a 162-strong delegation of Yugoslavian athletes, 11 of whom were Slovenian. Internationally renowned swimmer Borut Petrič achieved fifth place in the 1500 m freestyle event which was won by the unbeatable Russian Vladimir Salnikov. Runner Peter Mahne from Celje also won fifth place in the 400 m steeplechase.