Some 9,000 athletes from 123 countries have gathered at Munich for the XXth Olympiad. Two weeks hence, when they go home, nearly 8,000 of them will be leaving empty-handed, there being only 1,109 medals—364 of them gold—to be won. But the founder of the modern Games, Baron de Coubertin, never wearied of saying that taking part—not winning—was the point. Barring injury or other mishap, the men and women pictured on the following pages will be taking part at Munich. Some will win, some will finish in the ruck, but all will be honored in their countries for having done the best they could, for themselves and for their homelands.
Little Cathy Rigby is biggest U.S. hope in gymnastics, having won a silver medal on the beam in the 1970 World Games.
In the past 2½ years, Superheavyweight Vasily Alexeyev of Russia broke 54 weight-lifting records—mostly his own.
Although a 198-pound weakling, Naga Assad, a teacher at Cairo's High Physical Culture school, has put shot 67'11½."
August 27, 1972
Assistant police inspector John Akii-Bua and prison warden Judith Ayaa, both of Uganda, will run intermediate hurdles and the 400.
Israel's athlete of the year for 1971 is Esther Shahamorov, who plans to triple in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 100-meter hurdles.
A graduate student in physical education at Tokyo's Nihon University, Akio Usami has the third-fastest time ever in the marathon.
Norway's Peder Lunde Jr. won a gold in '60, a silver in '68. Here he is hiked out in a Tempest with Axel Gresvig.
A waterworks gardener, Emiel Puttemans of Belgium holds the world record in the two-mile, will likely run in the 5,000.
The 106-pound boxing gold medalist in '68, Francisco Rodriguez of Venezuela is known as Morochito—roughly, sweetheart.
West German retailer Josef Neckermann, a '68 medalist in dressage, is oldest (60), richest ($1 billion annual gross) Olympian.
Alberto Demiddi of Argentina, the 1970 world champion and a sales supervisor for Coca-Cola, is favored in the single sculls.
Striding through a grove of gum trees is Aussie Kerry O'Brien, who holds the world record in the steeplechase.
Olga Lucía de Angulo, 16, Colombia's Woman of the Year in 1971, holds many South American swimming records.
Gheorgia Gruia (upper right) is captain of Rumania's world championship handball team. The game is like soccer.
Italian Franco Cagnotto (lower right), the European springboard champion, is also a contender in platform diving.
Hailing from caviar-rich Babolsar, Iran, the freestyle wrestler Abdullah Movahed won 154-pound title in '68.