He was an Olympic wrestler who won gold in 1984. Now, I don't know the names of many Olympic wrestlers, let alone ones who competed almost three decades ago. But a year and ten days ago I was reading a book called Awaken the Olympian Within and came across Jeff Blatnick's story (click the link for the post I wrote about it). It left me moved and emotional and tearstained, and I suddenly had an immense attachment to a man who competed in a sport I rarely watch a full seven years before I was even born.
I don't remember the last time I'd even though about his story in the past year. But upon seeing tweets mourning his passing, it all came crashing back. This is the first time in a long time that the death of someone famous has personally meant something to me and I had to take a moment to myself to be sad.
There's really no point to this post, nor do I have anything else to report. Jeff Blatnick died, and I'm sad. That's about the extent of it. But this is my small tribute to a man who overcame an Olympic boycott and cancer to become the best in his sport, and made a 20-year-old girl cry on a plane to Salt Lake City.
Rest in peace, Jeff.