Dave Wottle’s charge from last place to win an improbable gold medal in the 800m is a hidden gem
Thirty seconds into the men’s 800m final at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, the American runner Dave Wottle is so far off the pace the ABC co-commentator wonders if something is up. The director switches from a wide shot to a camera aimed purely at Wottle. There are yards of empty track in front of him; no rival is in sight. Concern is registered. “It’ll be a few more hundred yards before we know if Dave is seriously injured or really just lagging back to stay out of trouble.”
It’s easy to spot him and not just because he’s detached from the field. Wottle is running in a golf cap, originally to keep his ginger curls in check but worn now out of superstition. This is Napoleon Dynamite, not your typical American track hunk.