A Song For You
Adam Nelson heard a national anthem meant for him on Saturday night at The Armory, a moment that Millrose Games organizers used to recognize one of the great U.S. throwers.
A sellout crowd at The Armory showered Nelson with applause and recognized him as an Olympic champion.
More than eight years ago Nelson competed at Olympia, Greece, site of the 2004 Olympic Games shot put. Nelson soaked it all in. He stood in the place where athletes waged contests in antiquity, did his best and returned home to the United States with a silver medal. (Nelson and Yuriy Bilonog of the Ukraine had identical best throws; the tie was broken by Bilonog’s second-best mark).
As it turns out, it should have been gold.
Last December, a re-tested drug testing sample by Bilonog came up positive for a banned substance. The International Olympic Committee has stripped Bilonog’s gold medal but not made a decision regarding the athletes who finished behind him.
"This is a great example, and hopefully an inspiration for younger athletes that it does pay to do it the right way over the long run,” Nelson said. “I think it's a great thing in sports right now to show that our athletes can accomplish great things without drugs, without cheating.”
Nelson had said that one of the things he missed most from not winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games was hearing The Star-Spangled Banner.
On Saturday, he was serenaded by Marissa Pontecorvo, who gave a stirring rendition prior to the Men’s Wanamaker Mile.
“Tonight was really special,” Nelson said. “It’s one of the best ways to hear the national anthem, better than on a recording.”
Nelson said he doesn’t feel as much bitterness over the doping development as he thought he might.
“When I found out about it I had a much more subdued response than I thought I’d have. I thought I’d be pretty mad and angry, but it happened a long time ago,” Nelson said. “It kind of feels like winning a lifetime achievement award.
“I’m more focused on the future than what’s happened in the past.”