“It’s a part of our Michigan heritage.” That
was the message of University athletic director and U.S. Olympic
Committee President Bill Martin last night, referring to the 84
Olympic medals that University students have won since the modern
Olympic Games began in 1896.
Martin, who is president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, gave a
presentation in the Pendleton Room of the Michigan Union was
sponsored by the Hellenic Student Association — a Greek
cultural organization — and titled “Spirit and Dream of
the Olympics.”Martin discussed the history of the Olympic
Games, the dreams of competing athletes and the realities facing
the United States in the 100th holding of the Games this
“It is the dream of the athlete to stand on that podium,
have someone put a medal around his or her neck, and hear his or
her national anthem,” he said. He added that the United
States will likely face hostility from other countries in the
competitions. “We truly are the world’s
policemen,” he said.
Martin, who received his MBA from the University in 1965, was
appointed to his current position in 2000 by former University
President Lee Bollinger.
LSA senior Jessica Chaise expressed gratification that the event
featured such a high-profile speaker. “I think it’s
exciting that the U.S. Olympic Committee president is also such as
strong presence on the Michigan campus,” she said.
Martin voiced his dissatisfaction with recent scandals involving
Olympic athletes taking performance-enhancing drugs. “It is
absolutely the ugly side of sport,” he said. He praised the
United States Anti-Doping Agency, which was formed in 2000 to
prevent drug use by these athletes. “We took (drug testing)
out of sports politicians’ hands and put it in the hands of
an independent agency.”
Martin also discusses some of positive effects of the Olympic
Games, saying they provide community growth. “You want to
have great games; you want to leave a wonderful legacy for sport.
It’s also an emotional legacy, just a hive for
community,” he said.
He also informed the audience of the ambitious international
objectives the U.S. Olympic Committee holds. “The U.S.
Olympic Committee’s goal is to bring four Iraqi wrestlers and
their coaches to Colorado Springs for training.”
HSA vice-president Alice Shukla, an LSA junior, said she wants
everyone to embrace the Olympic spirit. “This is a project
we’ve been working on since 2001. We want the whole
University community to share in celebrating the Olympics,”
LSA fifth-year student Chris Soves shared his plans for
volunteering at the Summer Games in Athens. “I plan on going
this summer. The volunteers do everything from selling lemonade to
escorting athletes or dignitaries,” he explained.
Anastasia Yendiki, Engineering graduate student and president of
HSA, also shared her anticipation of this summer’s Games.
“It’s important to a lot of people in our organization
— the Olympics are going back to Greece. People feel proud
about that.” The modern Games were first held in Athens,
Greece by a young Frenchman named Pierre de Coubertin, who thought
that athletics were crucial to human development.