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Sept. 9, 1972: Day 15

September 09, 2002|Lance Pugmire



USC's Williams Leaps 27-0 1/2

to Win Long Jump

Randy Williams, a 19-year-old USC freshman from Compton, ended a 48-hour gold-medal drought for the U.S. track and field team with a victory in the long jump. He jumped 27 feet 1/2 inch, then credited a teddy bear that a girlfriend had given him for good luck. Still, the U.S. failed to win the men's shotput for the first time since 1936, George Woods finishing second to Poland's Wladyslaw Komar. Dave Wottle, who had won the 800, failed to qualify for the final in his best event, the 1,500. Olga Connolly of Culver City, in her fifth Olympics, did not qualify in the discus, attributing her showing to her refusal to take steroids.



*--* Country G S B T Soviet Union 42 24 20 86 United States 28 29 28 85 East Germany 19 20 22 61


*--* QUOTE


"There will be a lot of unprecedented things happening."

--Incoming IOC President Lord Killanin, forecasting changes in amateurism rules



Vladislavas Cesiunas confronted a remarkable fall from grace, one possible only in a land void of essential freedoms.

Seven years after he and partner Yuri Lobanov won a gold medal for the Soviet Union in the Canadian pairs' 1,000-meter canoeing competition in Munich, Cesiunas returned to West Germany--Duisburg--to observe the kayak and canoe world championships as director of Dynamo Sports School.

Cesiunas met a West German woman on his monthlong visit and dated her twice. Asked by an interpreter recently if he had fallen in love with the woman, Cesiunas answered quickly, "Nyet!"

But he acknowledged being intrigued by her mention of remaining with her in West Germany, expressing his confusion on the subject to friends.

"I saw no political aspect to it," Cesiunas said. "Even though I was an officer for Dynamo [the Soviet Union's KGB-sponsored club], I was not on the police side, I was on the sports side. I saw no wrong."

There were reports the Soviets, made aware of the situation, kidnapped Cesiunas and ushered him back to his home in Lithuania. "It's now 30 years later," Cesiunas, 62, said in a telephone interview from his home in a small, rural Lithuanian village. "It's OK to tell the truth. The truth is I left [West Germany] voluntarily and I arrived voluntarily."

Upon his return, however, Cesiunas faced immense intimidation. "I was accused of betraying my country. I was accused of being a deserter," he said. "I was told I was going to be sent away to a prison camp for 15 years, to a coal mine in a distant city where I would have to perform hard labor."

Although he was stripped of his job in the customs department upon his return, he somehow avoided the coal mine.

"The Olympics were coming to Moscow in 1980, and I think [the Soviets] were afraid of public opinion if anyone learned they had forced one of their gold medalists into the prison," he said.

He was given a new job, as a civilian coach in a children's sports school, at one-third the salary of his customs position.

In 1980, he married a Lithuanian woman, Irena. They have two daughters, ages 20 and 19. Cesiunas hasn't left Lithuania since his 1979 return.

"When people ask, I say I appeared with the Soviet national team, but I am from Lithuania," Cesiunas said.

Cesiunas and the German woman reunited for a brief meeting shortly after Lithuania gained its independence.

"It was pleasant, like seeing someone you had formally dated usually is," he said.

Less than two years ago, he said he was informed the woman had died at age 75.

Head of shifts for the Lithuanian customs agency, Cesiunas said he is one year from retiring. He said he receives about $30 monthly from his Soviet sports pension and four times as much from the Lithuanian Olympic Committee.

Asked if he will venture out of Lithuania in retirement, he said: "I don't expect to be invited anywhere. It seems I'm not needed by anyone. I grew up here. I was a kid here. I love my country and I love my land, which is a difficult place to live."

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