Videos: Greg Joy, Athletics
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It was very interesting because there were all those delays with the construction and you know the stadium wasn’t finished and there was that whole thing of Canada hosting the Summer Olympics which was such a big deal and there was a spotlight on a lot of people and a lot of pressure. And I was kind of fortunate, I was living in Texas and going to school there and decided to stay in Texas until the games. So I didn’t really experience the, the pressure I guess of being here and being surrounded by that constant attention.
Dwight Stones was definitely the guy to beat. He was the World Record holder. We competed against each other starting in 1973. I think the first time I competed against him was ’73 in Stockholm and it was ..all the time. So he was my, he was the one I was going for. I knew that if I, my thought was if I beat him I’d win the Gold. It didn’t quite work out. [chuckle]. My focus was specifically Gold medal, there was no second thoughts. The only thing I thought about for the entire lead-up period was winning the Gold medal. So when I got down to my third attempt at 2:18 because of the rain and changed my shoes there was no doubt I was going over the bar because I was there to win. So quite frankly it was quite disappointing to walk away second.
I thrived on the whole atmosphere. I mean 73,000 people screaming for you, that can get you juiced. So I just let it loose because I had nothing to lose. You know I’d jumped under those circumstances before. The first time I ever jumped seven feet was on my third attempt. A lot of my best jumps were on my third attempt so it was that confidence and ability to shut out all the distractions and let it fly. And I knew I had it in me. I mean the height was 2.23, it was a very easy, before I left for the Olympics I’d put the bar at that height and I jumped it ten times in a row, so I knew I was ready to do that. And that kind of confidence when you walk in and you just go, you know I can do this, this is stupid, why have I missed it twice, and just let it fly. So it was, it was good, it felt good to go over it because I went over it very easily, I cleared it by a lot. And you know looking back at the video you can see that it was kind of fun.
Jacek was on the first place podium and he said, “Come on up.” And I said, “No, that’s your spot.” And I was disappointed, like because I didn’t deserve to be up there. You know a lot of the Olympic champs that bring them up, I just couldn’t do it, because I was, I was second, and that’s where I, that’s where I deserved to be at that time. And Jacek and I had been friends for years. As a matter of fact before I walked in the stadium Hugh Fraser who was a sprinter on the team looked at me and he says, “So that’s the guy you’re worried about, isn’t it?” And I looked at him and I said, “Nope. That one.” And I pointed at Jacek. He said why and I said, “Look at his eyes.” He said really? I said, “His eyes tell me something. He’s ready to go. The other guy was scared to death.