Mile News

My fall at Olympics: One of the best things to happen to me

July 13, 2016

The challenge of Munich forced us to grow up very fast. We developed a whole new understanding of forgiveness.

By Jim Ryun for

The first time I ran in the Olympics, I was a junior in high school. While my classmates were in school in Wichita, Kansas, I was competing in Tokyo.

When I would come back to Wichita from meets, many times I'd be met at the airport by 400 or 500 people. They would organize a parade from the airport to the East High School gym and expect me to make a speech. Achieving that level of success at such a young age made it easy to feel like the center of the universe.

My final Olympics brought me down to earth.

It was 1972, in Munich. Four years earlier, in Mexico City, I’d taken home a silver medal in the 1500 meter race.

Munich was supposed to be different. It’s at sea level, so I wouldn’t have an altitude disadvantage. In the years between Mexico City and Munich, I ran 120 miles a week with some of the most intense workouts I had ever done. Leading into the Olympics, I ran the third-fastest Mile in history, winning by 15 seconds.

But I never even got the chance to compete for the gold in Munich.

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Tags: olympics (67) , jim ryun (93)

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