Kratschmer only spectators: When Daley Thompson became king

Kratschmer only spectators
When Daley Thompson became king

The decathlete Guido Kratschmer is at the height of his career in 1980. He wants to crown himself at the games in Moscow. Then comes the boycott. Kratschmer drives anyway. He reports for a magazine. He sees Daley Thompson grabbing gold. Kratschmer feels nothing.

Guido Kratschmer experienced the day that was supposed to be the greatest of his career just a few meters away from the action. In the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, where the decathlon Olympic champion was crowned on July 26, 1980, Kratschmer was sitting in the stands in civilian clothes. The world’s best athletics kings at the time was not allowed to compete due to the boycott of the West. Instead, the Brit Daley Thompson proudly presented the gold medal.

“The gold medal was my big goal and I was only able to win it in Moscow”, Kratschmer is convinced to this day. Four years earlier he had won silver in Montreal, and in early 1980 Kratschmer was at the peak of his performance. But then his big dream broke: “I was on the way to Götzis, for the first decathlon of that year and on the way there I heard it on the radio.”

After that, Kratschmer was “devastated”, above all because of his physical condition, which from his point of view almost guaranteed him gold in Moscow. “I had been preparing for the Olympic Games in Moscow very specifically from 1977 onwards. And there was no real opponent for me then, except Daley Thompson,” he said. Kratschmer provided the proof a few weeks later. He set a world record at a competition in Bernhausen.

But that didn’t bring the then 27-year-old to Moscow either – at least not as an athlete. For a magazine he reported live on site how his great opponent Thompson won gold. “I only remember that I was very nervous at the 100-meter run – and above all sad. I followed the rest of the race without much sympathy,” said Kratschmer, looking back.

While Thompson and Jürgen Hingsen shaped the 1980s in the decathlon, Kratschmer could no longer build on the great times. He finished fourth at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and ended his career four years later after a serious injury.