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Parkite and Gold Medalist Wishes Luck to Utah Olympians

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“To be in this games would be very, very special,” Parkite and former Olympic champion Dick Roth said about an upside to the 2021 Olympic games being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 Olympic games in Tokyo begin this Friday. Events will not have crowds in attendance, and other guidelines related to COVID-19 will reduce the overall spectacle of the event.

Roth said he thinks of this as an opportunity bring focus back to the athletic achievement on display.

“We’ll be really focusing on the athletes and the athletic performance in a very tough time,” he said.

At the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Roth won gold in the men’s 400-meter individual medley race, setting a world record. He was 17 years old.

His message to athletes like mountain biker Haley Batten of Park City was to treat the games like any other competition. Batten is one of four Utah-born athletes heading to Tokyo, according to USA Today.

Roth spoke fondly of the memory of the Salt Lake City games in 2002. As to whether it would be a good idea to bring them back to this area in 2030 or 2034, he expressed uncertainty.

“Honestly, I’m a little overwhelmed at what the games have become and the cost,” he said. “I think we’ve gotten ay too into the money aspect of it, and the expense is just absolutely overwhelming, and I wish we could still have the games but just put it on differently.”

He said since competing in 1964, he has observed change in the nature of the games.

“It’s the money, I think. It’s changed it dramatically, and it’s not nearly as much about the athlete as it used to be, and the athletic accomplishment, and I’m sorry for that. I wish that we would have more about the achievement of the games, and it makes me kind of sad, actually.”

The Olympics kick off Wednesday with soccer, baseball and softball games, and the opening ceremony is on Friday.

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