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BARCELONA '92 OLYMPICS / DAY 9 : Whatever Happens, Here Is a True Hero

August 03, 1992|MIKE DOWNEY

Two weeks later, safely home in a Philadelphia suburb but still repulsed by the horror, Matz needed a diversion. Entering a $75,000 Grand Prix show-jumping event, the Hampton Classic, he surprised himself by winning. Not long thereafter, he heard that ABC-TV's "World News Tonight" named him person of the week.

He didn't feel like person of the week.

Heisman the horse is about as old as some of America's gymnasts. He is older than a Chinese girl who won a gold medal in diving. When the owner, Sale Johnson, wanted to choose a name for the horse that would have the ring of a champion, someone suggested Heisman, as in college football's trophy.

Michael Matz had to check out younger horses the next time he boarded an airplane. Reading the newspaper on a flight to Kentucky for the yearling sales at Keeneland, he fell into a deep sleep.

A sudden noise startled him.

Matz hurled his paper into the air and yelled: "What was that?"

It was the plane, landing.

The man beside Matz asked: "What's the matter?"

Matz let go of the armrests and said: "Nothing. Bad dream."

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