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U.s. Olympic Festival : Los Angeles--1991 : Memorable Moments

July 10, 1991|ELLIOTT ALMOND



It started out as a joke, but was the kind of jocularity that binds athletes.

Karch Kiraly, who was on the verge of becoming the world's dominant volleyball player, peppered rivals at the 1979 Olympic Festival in Colorado Springs with water when they entered and exited his dormitory.

"I happened to have a room right over the entrance to the whole building," he recalled. "I was filling a trash can full of water and dumping people."

But Sinjin Smith and Tim Hovland, who today are two of the best beach pros, retaliated. Kiraly said he tried to seal the bottom of his door, but the pranksters took a fire extinguisher and shot it under the door.

"The whole room had an inch layer of this lime green, weird-smelling dust," Kiraly said.

The loose atmosphere was the beginning of a special bond for these and other volleyball players who worked almost as hard at outdoing each other as winning festival matches.

Kiraly, who participated in 1978 and '79, said the nucleus of players from those Festivals developed a special camaraderie by the 1984 Olympics. The United States, led by Kiraly, won gold medals in '84 and '88 and was the world's top-ranked volleyball team throughout the 1980s.

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