Within the grand scheme of items, Benn Fields is aware of he’s fortunate
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. —
Within the grand scheme of items, Benn Fields is aware of he is fortunate. His occupation as an elite excessive jumper has taken him all over the world greater than as soon as — to Nigeria, Mexico, Guatemala, the Heart East, even Russia.
A lot of the ones journeys got here whilst promoting observe and box apparatus, a product he changed into very aware of a long time earlier than whilst changing into one of the crucial best possible on the planet at his game.
The travel that by no means came about was once the only to the Moscow Olympics, and despite the fact that Fields will ceaselessly be referred to as a U.S. Olympian, he additionally will all the time surprise about what may were had the U.S. govt now not spearheaded a boycott of the ones video games 40 years in the past.
“When I was offered, they would say, ‘Here’s an Olympian,’” Fields mentioned. “And the very first thing they requested you is, ’What medal did you win?’ The second one factor is, ‘The place do you stay it?’”
Fields is one in all 227 American athletes who constructed their lives round making the 1980 U.S. Olympic crew, simplest to look the travel to the real video games ripped clear of them, then by no means get every other likelihood.
“The legacy is that he was once in height situation, he’d overwhelmed everybody, he was once proper at an international document and he did not get an opportunity to compete,” mentioned Edwin Moses, a 1980 teammate of Fields’ who, himself, would get different possibilities at Olympic glory.
Fields had cleared 7 toes five half of inches in 1979 and defeated the arena document holder. He received the Olympic trials in 1980 and was once ranked No. 1 within the U.S. that summer time. However the ones trials have been held in June — two months after the U.S. Olympic Committee had acceded to the urging of the federal government and agreed to tug the plug on going to Moscow. The federal government sought after a boycott to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
What is true lately was once true again then: oftentimes making the U.S. Olympic observe crew is each bit as tricky as successful a medal on the Olympics themselves. The 1980 Olympians could be venerated on the White Space later that summer time. It all got here as small comfort for the popularity they in reality sought after.
“I all the time figured that, particularly when you have been Black, when you did neatly and received a gold medal in Communist Russia, your advertising and marketing alternatives would’ve been nice,” Fields mentioned. “That is what I used to be concentrated on, to marketplace myself after doing neatly in Russia.”
As an alternative, Fields attempted to hold on and milk 4 extra years out of a high-jumping occupation that he had had each aim of leaving at the back of within the aftermath of 1980. He did not make every other Olympics. He went directly to a a hit occupation — first within the building trade, then promoting observe and box apparatus out of the country.
One in all his best possible trade selections, or so he concept, was once bringing numerous pale denims to Moscow on a 1979 travel to a meet referred to as Spartakiad, which was once an Olympic tuneup of types. He knew he may get just right cash for American merchandise that have been scarce at the back of the Iron Curtain.
It labored out — in a technique, a minimum of.
“I finished up with such a lot of rubles, that I could not spend all of them,” he mentioned. “And also you could not take it in another country, so I used to be roughly caught.”
There have been, after all, larger disappointments to come back.
40 years after the boycott, Fields says his family and friends harbor extra resentment than he does.
What provides him solace is a line from an previous funk music: “To every his achieve. And if I do not cop, it ain’t mine to have.”
“I did take some time,” Fields says. “However there are not any promises in existence. And if it isn’t for me to have, the purpose is to recover from it and reside with it.”