Dave Wottle remembers Olympic's greatest come from behind win - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Wottle remembers Olympic's greatest come from behind win

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Dave Wottle, Photo: YouTube user runner1972yahoo. Dave Wottle, Photo: YouTube user runner1972yahoo.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Dave Wottle amazed the world, coming from behind and winning the gold medal in the 800 meter race in Munich in record fashion. Forty years later, the Germantown resident still remembers that experience vividly.

"It was a very close race," Wottle said "It was .03 of a second, closest race in 800 meter Olympic history. I think it still is."

The 1972 race ended with Wottle taking home the gold, but it began with him way behind. In fact, he was dead last.

"I was feeling a little sense of panic at the beginning of the race," he said. "The other runners had gone out very quickly in the race and I just wasn't able to keep up. I had come down with an injury prior to the games so that cut into my training."

But he caught up with the pack of runners after the first lap and then passed them all in the final stretch to win the race.

He did it all while wearing a lucky ball cap that also kept his hair out of his face.

Dave Wottle's victory came just days after the Munich Massacre, when Palestinian terrorists killed 2 members of the Israeli Olympic team and took 9 others hostage.

"It was almost a surreal feeling in the Olympic Village, because you had this international terrorist incident occurring… but life in the Village outside of the roped off area went along as normal," he said.

A huge gunfight left 5 terrorists and all 9 hostages dead, but the games continued.

Wottle said the athletes had to do their best not to think about the violence and continue to prepare for their events.

Wottle currently serves as a vice president at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, but still calls Germantown home.

"When I watch the Olympics, I still, like most Americans, get excited and I feel a sense of pride when Americans win," he said.

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