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November 2011 (Vol. 10, No. 11)
Oerter’s Passion: Melding Art & Sports
By Tom Toolen
FORT MYERS, Fla.—Gold medal winner Al Oerter was on a mission—one that few observers ever acknowledged—and that was to incorporate the practice of art into the Olympics.
Oerter, who won the gold in the discus in games in Melbourne, Rome, Tokyo and Mexico City, spearheaded a campaign to link the arts to the Olympics to dispel the "winning is everything" credo so prevalent in sports today.
The Olympic star often said that in the ancient games "the athlete was not only expected to excel physically, but also be well versed in art, poetry, literature and music to make him a complete and well-rounded human being. That was what the Olympic goal was in Greece in those days."
Tragically, Oerter died of a heart ailment in 2007 before he could see his dream fully realized.
But that was not the end of his campaign. His effort was carried on by his wife, Cathy, fellow Olympian Liston Bochette, Ph.D., and a friend, Marcus Sherry, M.D.
Two years after Oerter’s death, the trio succeeded in establishing the Art of the Olympians Foundation that proudly occupies a building in the downtown historic district of Fort Myers, Fl., Oerter's hometown.
The Olympic center is part museum and part classrooms, where athletes, youngsters and tourists go to view exhibits and learn details about how sports and the arts work in tandem at the Olympic games.
"My husband's vision ...Read More