Olympic Memories: 1972

Mark Spitz...Seven-gold swimmer at the Munich Games of 1972...
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The Independent Online

The American took the Games by storm in 1972, winning seven gold medals and setting seven world records. The moustached 22-year-old added to his two golds from the 1968 Games in Mexico City to record the highest ever medal haul by an individual at one Games. His first gold was secured comfortably in the 200m butterfly. He stormed to four more golds before the most dramatic of his wins in the 100m freestyle. Spitz held off staunch competition from US team-mate Jerry Heidenreich for his sixth triumph. He completed a fine summer by swimming the third leg of the 4x100m relay, orchestrating his country's win by opening up a big lead. His outstanding performances ensured his place in the pantheon of Olympics greats, but his success was dampened by the horror of Israeli athletes being murdered by Palestinian gunmen. Spitz, who is Jewish, was driven straight to Munich airport after being identified as a prime target. "I completely freaked out," he said. "Here it was 27 years after the end of the Second World War and there were still madmen killing Jews because they were Jews." Spitz retired soon after the Games.