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The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta were a once in a lifetime experience. Terry has been especially fortunate this year. Obtaining opening ceremony tickets! This made him a happy camper! The pageantry was beyond description. The memories and Olympic spirit will be with him the rest of his life.
As an official he managed to sometimes acquire tickets to other events. These included; weightlifting, judo, fencing, volleyball, track and field events at Olympic Stadium like sprints and high jump, wrestling, and team handball. Though he enjoyed them all, Table Tennis was what he was there for.
Jan Ove Waldner was the defending Gold Medalist for Sweden. As a matter of fact, he was the only Gold Medal winner for Sweden in the 1992 games in Barcelona. This made him a national hero, but it also put the weight of an entire country on his shoulders. As the King of Sweden and the Royal Family looked on, Johnny Wang of Canada took advantage of J. O. and eliminated him in the round of 16.
World #1 Kong Ling Hui of China fared no better against Kim Taek Soo of Korea. Yoo Nam Kyu of Korea, the 1988 Gold Medalist could only watch as he too fell in the early rounds. The venue was set up with 8 tables in the beginning, then went to 2 for the ¼ finals then 1 for the semis and finals. The crowds were enormous and it was all but impossible to get a ticket. Table Tennis was the first venue to sell out in the Olympics and more than 102,000 people were there to watch the action.
With Kong out, Wang Tao with an injury, Waldner gone, it was no surprise that Jean Michelle Saive fell to World #41 Korbell from the Czec Republic. This meant that 1,2,3, and 4 in the world were seemingly eliminated from the competition. Eventual Bronze medal winner #5 Rosskopf from Germany had to face Kim Taek Soo the round after he knocked off Kong. To cheers of ROSSY, ROSSY, he stayed alive. Johnny Wang now had to face Liu Guliang world #6. (this was a tough event folks). Liu eventually would beat Wang Tao, who came back from a twisted ankle, in an all Chinese final. As you can see in this motor drive sequence, although Johnny lost, it was a good match.
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On the women's side, Deng Yaping of China continued to reign supreme. The Chinese women hold the #s 1-14 spots in the world. Although several have moved to other countries, the highest non Chinese is Strausse of Germany. It seemed that fate was against Deng as she had to sit and wait for an extra 90 minutes to play her semi final match in singles. The lights at the Georgia World Congress Center went out twice in the match before hers. Each outage took 30-45 minutes to bring the lights back up to proper brightness. She was not happy. When she got into the Gold Medal match with Chen Jing, the 1988 Gold Medalist, she had to step her game to a level that I have never before seen from a female player.
Seen in this candid shot from within the court of this match, it is possible that Deng could be #1 or #2 in the US counting the men. By the way, as you can see if you bring up the picture, not all Chinese women are 5' tall, some are over 7'!
The umpires worked extremely hard during the first days of the Olympics. They then had a bit easier schedules as the tourny wore on. During these 14 & ½ hour days, the transportation provided for them was sometimes frustratingly slow or almost non existent. Coming out of the venue to find no busses was not a happy occurrence. However, the 4 person crews worked like clockwork. At the end there was a grand gathering at Aly Salam's home. This was a special moment as we presented our token of appreciation to Terry Weaver. Her dedicated hard work in coordinating umpires from around the world merits special mention.
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