‘The Margaret Lambert Story’ launches Olympic Channel series

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Margaret Lambert, a Jewish-German high jumper excluded from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, is the subject of the first documentary of the Olympic Channel series “Foul Play.”

Lambert told her story in an Olympic Channel interview just before her death in July at 103 years old.

The 23-minute film will be available on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app starting Thursday.

Lambert, then known as Gretel Bergmann, was a German national champion and an Olympic medal contender in the summer of 1936. Less than two months before the Berlin Games, she cleared what ended up being the gold-medal height at the Olympics.

But she was not allowed to compete for Germany. She learned that via a letter dated July 16, 1936, two weeks before the Opening Ceremony.

“They told me that day that, according to your recent performances, I’m sure you did not figure on being a member of the team because you were too inconsistent or you weren’t good enough or whatever,” Lambert said in a profile that aired during NBC’s coverage of the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The bottom of the letter signed off, “Heil Hitler!”

“I don’t forgive Germany [for] what they did,” Lambert told the Olympic Channel. “Never, never, never forget. I don’t think anybody who went through this forgot and forgave.”

Lambert was actually living in England in 1935. German officials told her to come back to try out for the Olympic team, threatening her family.

It was a charade to appease nations considering boycotting the Games due to Nazi Germany’s discrimination.

“The Germans made me come back because I was the only one who was able to compete in the Olympics,” she said. “The token Jew.”

Once the U.S. and other nations committed to traveling to Berlin, Lambert was dismissed by German officials.

“The main reason I was so upset was I wanted to show what a Jew could do,” she said in the 1996 Olympic profile. “I wanted to embarrass Hitler. … I felt horribly cheated, and I still feel cheated to this day.”

She immediately made plans to flee, eventually moving to New York and swearing she would never step foot in Germany again.

She was good enough to make a U.S. Olympic team, but World War II meant no Olympics in 1940 or 1944 and the end of her high jumping.

Lambert gained worldwide fame in 1996, when she was invited by the German Olympic Committee to attend the Atlanta Games in an act of reconciliation. She accepted and, three years later, returned to Germany.

“She decided she cannot hold subsequent generations responsible,” son Gary told the Olympic Channel.

The Olympic Channel original series “Foul Play” explores controversial subjects including religion, gender and race within the context of sports and the Olympic Movement.

At least two more films are set to air with subjects being in announced in the coming months.

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MORE: Adolph Kiefer, U.S. Olympic swim champ in 1936, dies at 98

Margaret Lambert

Skylar Diggins-Smith has the opportunity to fill USA Basketball’s need

Skylar Diggins
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Skylar Diggins-Smith said making the U.S. Olympic team is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is her second chance.

An ACL tear derailed her Rio 2016 hopes. That happened in a WNBA game on June 28, 2015.

Though Diggins-Smith was among 25 Olympic finalists named in January 2016, she didn’t return to game action until that May, four weeks after the 12-woman Olympic team was chosen.

The 27-year-old guard said she’s played for USA Basketball for 12 years, since before her standout Notre Dame career that led to her current stint with the Dallas Wings (formerly Tulsa Shock).

“This is the most clear my mind has been,” with USA Basketball, Diggins-Smith said from training camp in Seattle on Tuesday, ahead of a Thursday exhibition against China at Key Arena (10 p.m. ET, usab.com/live).

Signs point to Diggins-Smith making her major international tournament debut at September’s FIBA World Cup, the quadrennial world championship event.

Though Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi‘s surprising returns crowd the backcourt, the other Olympic gold medalist guard, Lindsay Whalen, retired from the national team.

Diggins-Smith’s play last season, her first full campaign back from the ACL tear, boosts her case. She made the All-WNBA First Team.

She also made the first team in 2014. That year, Diggins-Smith was among the final cuts for the world championship team less than a week before the tournament.

“Every time I come to USA Basketball, I think you have a tendency to kind of overthink,” Diggins-Smith said Tuesday. “You just want to do the right thing, don’t really want to make mistakes. … You want to do the right thing, and you press a little bit.”

USA Basketball has stressed finding its next stalwart point guard following five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, three-time Olympian Dawn Staley (now the U.S. head coach) and the 37-year-old Bird, eyeing her fifth Olympics in 2020.

“Give me three guards that have separated themselves from everyone else in the WNBA to put themselves at the same level as Sue, Diana, Lindsay Whalen,” then-U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said after the Olympic team was named in April 2016. “You really start to look around and, you go, that is a huge question that has to be answered.”

“Obviously, there’s a need,” Staley said in February, listing point guards other than Bird at that camp.

The first name Staley mentioned was Diggins-Smith, for what it’s worth.

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MORE: Candace Parker finished with USA Basketball

USA Track and Field to honor 1968 Olympic team on 50th anniversary

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USA Track and Field begins a campaign this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympic team.

Members of the Mexico City Games team, one of the greatest track and field teams in history, will be honored at high-profile events the remainder of the year.

The campaign, “1968-2018: Celebrating Athletic Achievement and Courage,” culminates with a “Night of Legends” reunion in December at the USATF Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, also attended by current U.S. stars.

The 1968 Olympic team is most remembered for Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who took gold and bronze in the 200m and were sent home after raising their black-gloved fists in a human rights salute during the national anthem.

The team also included gold medalists Bob Beamon (long jump), Dick Fosbury (high jump), Al Oerter (discus), Wyomia Tyus and Jim Hines (100m), Lee Evans (400m), Madeline Manning Mims (800m), Willie Davenport (110m hurdles), Bob Seagren (pole vault), Randy Matson (shot put), Bill Toomey (decathlon) and the men’s and women’s 4x100m and men’s 4x400m.

“The legacy of the greatest track & field team to ever be assembled is still felt 50 years later,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said in a press release. “These Olympians persevered through athletic challenges and social injustices, maintaining their composure and dignity when others may have fallen. It is USATF’s honor to pay homage to their achievements and bring the team together for an epic celebration at our Annual Meeting.”

U.S. track and field athletes will compete at two meets on NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold this weekend — the Drake Relays and Penn Relays.

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WATCH: NBC Olympics documentary on 1968 Olympics