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Thelma Wright at a 1971 Canada-Italy meet in Palermo, Sicily - photo courtesy of Thelma Wright
Thelma Wright at a 1971 Canada-Italy meet in Palermo, Sicily - photo courtesy of Thelma Wright

UBC Reports | Vol. 54 | No. 7 | Jul. 3, 2008

Thelma Wright on the Munich Olympics

By Lorraine Chan

Thelma Wright saw first hand how terrorism hijacked the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

On September 5, Palestinian terrorists infiltrated the Olympic Village, captured hostages and killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team.

“It was horrendous,” says Wright, “to see how our German hosts’ faces changed, from big open, friendly smiles, to looking stunned, sickened and even fearful.”

Just the previous day, Wright, then a 20-year-old UBC student, had competed in the 1,500-metre event for women. She failed to make the finals and went out on the town with her husband, Lee Wright, a UBC graduate and field hockey star, to “drown her sorrows,” recalls Wright.

They returned late to the Olympic Village, bidding each other goodnight next to the Israeli building. Wright went upstairs to the women’s quarters. The next morning, she was awakened by the screaming of an Israeli female athlete.

Under military lockdown, the entire three-block Olympic Village -- once bright and festive -- was now ringed “bumper to bumper by military trucks and soldiers with guns, including an armed escort in our elevator,” says Wright.

Four years later in 1976, Wright had a chance to experience a more peaceful Olympics, this time in Montreal.

To read more about the Wrights, a remarkable Olympian family, see the May 1, 2008 article of UBC Reports: Getting to Beijing the Wright Way.

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Last reviewed 02-Jul-2008

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