Praying for Boston victims, remembering Atlanta Olympics bombing

Today’s bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon brought back memories of the bombing at Centennial Park during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Centennial Park was located across the street from the media center and as I was leaving that night, I ran into a fellow journalist and friend who almost convinced me to head over to the park for a few beers and the free concert that was taking place.

Frankly, if I had been staying in a downtown hotel, I would have gone. But it was after midnight, I was tired, and mornings come quickly when you are covering an Olympics for a small newspaper. Plus, the fleabag hotel I was staying in was located just outside Decatur, which meant taking the train to an end of the line station. And then still driving another eight minutes or so to the hotel.

So I reluctantly passed up the free concert and headed to the Roach Motel with its shower with the metallic smell. I was pretty exhausted when I got to the room, but I turned on the TV out of habit and the stations were all covering the park bombing.

I remember debating myself over whether I should drive downtown to cover it, but after about a 13-hour day my dedication wavered.

Instead, I set the alarm for 6 a.m. so I could get back to the media center as early as possible.

The Olympics weren’t all fun and games after that, but it was one of those events I wanted to check off my bucket list as a sports writer.

Covering a senseless bombing that injures hundreds of folks, not so much.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Boston victims, most of them spectators who were downtown to watch the runners and celebrate Patriot’s Day in Boston. It was a horrific act of terrorism that exacted a particular heavy price on one family.

After watching all the video from Boston, I also had a moment of silence for the hundreds of victims in Atlanta, including the two who died there. If I had gone to the concert, I doubt I would have been anywhere near the pipe bombs that exploded on July 27, 1996 in downtown Atlanta.

But I would have heard the blast and seen the panic first hand, and I thank God I don’t have those memories to haunt me.

This entry was posted in Olympics, Pro Sports by Randy Beard. Bookmark the permalink.

About Randy Beard

Randy Beard has been at the Courier & Press since 2007 and became the sports editor in 2012. He has previously been a sports editor at the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail and the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat. He began his professional sports journalist career in 1976 and has spent his career primarily covering college sports in the ACC, SEC and Big Ten. He's also covered the NFL, the original North American Soccer League and professional tennis and golf. He's covered two Super Bowls, three college football national championship games, dozens of NCAA basketball tournament games, an Olympics, a World Cup and once hung out with soccer legend George Best for two days and sat in a golf cart with Jan Stephenson.

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