Elaine Cheris still bears the psychological scars left by America’s boycott of the Summer Olympics in Moscow 16 years ago.
“It was like death,” said Cheris of American athletes staying home as part of the U.S. government’s protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. “To me, it was the worst single event next to having someone close to you die.”
Cheris was 34 in 1980 and had earned a spot on the women’s foil fencing team. This year, at age 50, she is a member of epee team and the oldest 1996 U.S. Olympian.
Although Cheris competed in the ‘88 Olympics, she remains bitter over the boycott.
So distraught was Cheris that for years she could not compete. To help her deal with her problem, she underwent five years of therapy with Dr. Richard Suinn, a sports psychologist at the University of Colorado.