Q and A with Simplot Olympians

For Immediate Release
Date: January 28, 2018
Contact: Levi Gribas (208) 220-9604
E-mail: media@simplotgames.com

Q and A with the Simplot Olympians


Dick Fosbury: 1968 gold medalist in the high jump; U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
Question: People have referred to the Olympics as a celebration of culture. Was that your experience?
Answer: “My Olympic Games experience was eye-opening for me in Mexico City in 1968. All of the athletes from around the world lived in the Olympic Village, in different buildings. The USA men were in one high-rise building with apartments and the women were in a separate building, secure behind a tall fence. We all ate together in a huge cafeteria with food from different cultures and countries. We trained at practice facilities, shared by everyone, and I began to notice the different uniforms for athletes who spoke all languages. We were all different, came from different communities, and yet all shared something: – the desire to test our skills and training and see how good we are. I was very focused on my own training, staying loose and strong, getting ready for our qualifying rounds to make it to the finals. We had plenty of timeto rest and relax too, and I loved going to the swimming pool with all the athletes competing in different sporting events. While the politics of our countries were sometimes in conflict and we were in the Vietnam War, the athletes all shared the same goals. We intended to do our best, compete hard, and compete fair. I learned that no matter where we came from, or which language we used, which religion, or what color our skin was, we shared the Olympic spirit. It was tough competition, so intense with the huge crowds in the stadiums, but we all tried our best. I’ve never forgotten that experience and I know that the Simplot Games provides a similar experience for all the athletes that I hope they take home and remember forever!”

Andre Phillips:
1988 medalist in 400-meter hurdles; National Track and Field Hall of Fame.
Question 1: The Winter Olympics are just around the corner. As an athlete who participated in the Summer Olympics, what is your favorite part about the winter events?
Answer: “My favorite part of the Winter Olympics is that feeling I get of “Olympism”, if there is such a word. It brings me a sense of nostalgia about my time in the 1988 Olympic Games. I have appreciated the winter games for the last 20 years!”
Stacy Dragilla:
2000 gold medalist in pole vault; 2004 Olympian
Question: You have stood at the top of the Olympic podium holding the gold medal in honor of your country. Behind all of that is years of hard work, people, places, and experiences. Could you speak to your “roots” and how they helped you become the athlete/ person you are today?
Answer: “I remember having flashbacks as I stood on the medal podium, waving my Gold Medal to the spectators in the stands, at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I remembered the first day my ISU coach Dave Nielsen bribed me to try this crazy event. Next, I remembered the feeling of flying for the first time and loving it and thinking ‘maybe this isn’t so crazy’….  I remembered the doubters who thought women could not do this event because we “lacked strength and courage” and that women’s pole vault was merely a “fad.”  The doubters were drowned out by my believers:  My friends & family from my hometown of Auburn, CA where I grew strong and confident by simply living outdoors on a small ranch where my ‘workouts’ were stacking hay in the barn, tending to my livestock, and participating in rodeo.  I remembered my ‘second family’ in Pocatello where I grew from a crazy girl on a stick to a World Champion with a street named after me! I was honored to represent U.S.A. on the biggest athletic stage in the world and privileged to be wearing the Red, White & Blue as the National Anthem played. Finally, I remembered the lesson learned:  “Good things happen to people who dare to dream … and Great Things happen when you dare to Dream Big!”

Tyson Gunter:
2016 Paralympian; 2013 and 2017 silver medalist in World Champion high jump.
Question: When you were growing up, who were some of the athletes you looked up to?
Answer: “My older siblings, cousins, parents, uncles, and grandparents were all athletes. I was the youngest, and I wanted to become an athlete like them. Also, I remember watching the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta when Michael Johnson, in his gold spikes, broke the 200-meter and 400-meter world records.  Johnson was my first “professional idol”. I grew up on a dairy farm so I didn’t watch a lot of television, but when I did, I was watching sports. I loved watching Hakeem Olajuwon in the NBA, Kordell Stewart in the NFL, Chipper Jones in the MLB, and Jaromir Jagr in the NHL. As I grew older college sports were my passion, and I became a huge Brigham Young University fan. So any athlete that was good at BYU I idolized.”
 Butch Reynolds:
1988 Silver Medalist 400-meter dash and gold medalist in 4×400-meter Relay; Held 400-meter dash world record for 11 years.
Question: Because it is your first time attending the Simplot Games, what words of wisdom can you give to these young athletes?
Answer: “Do not forget these memories because I think who I am today, the man I am today, is because of all the experiences of being a track and field athlete. These experiences define you. Developing as an athlete is a day by day process, and you never know when you are going to blossom. Track and field is also a very challenging sport, so do not get discouraged if you fail, just keep trying to do your best every day. My philosophy is at the end of the day, shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you will still land among the stars.
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