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Terrorism threats at Sochi Olympics hits home for local athletes

By Julie Newman, jnewman@wcyb.com
Published On: Jan 22 2014 10:36:21 PM CST
BANNER ELK, N.C. -

      Terrorism is threatening to overshadow the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia next month, with renewed threats outside of the security zone. The same group claiming responsibility for a recent wave of Russian bombings says it'll hit the Olympics. Wanted posters show suspected black widow suicide bombers, and one may already be somewhere in Sochi.

     But terrorism at the Olympic Games has been around for decades.

     We talked to Tommy Burleson today. He was on the U.S. men's basketball team for the 1972 Summer Olympics. He was there during the Munich Massacre when the Palestinian terrorist group Black September took Isreali coaches and athletes hostage in the Olympic Village. Burleson tells us he was in a back stairwell as the terrorists led the hostages out of the hotel, and a soldier pressed a gun against the back of his neck. "It's pretty devastating when you think that there have been these nine Israeli athletes, they've been sitting there with one of their buddies stabbed to death, bleeding for about 36 hours, just laying there in front of them. Now they were coming out just walking to their death."

     We asked another local athlete who's been on the national stage about terrorism at the Olympics. Kim Jochl is a past member of the U-S ski team. She and her twin sister both trained and competed all over world. "When we raced back in the late 80's early 90's, The Cold War was going on, The Wall was coming down, and there were issues between the Russians and the Americans. But we don't focus on that. As athletes you're focused on your training, the environment around you, how you're performing at that time."

     Both athletes we talked to say despite the threat of terrorism, they both still have faith in the security of the games and would compete in the Olympics again if they had the choice.