‘The Margaret Lambert Story’ launches Olympic Channel series

0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Margaret Lambert

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
Getty
0 Comments

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
Getty
0 Comments

Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”