GSU Track & Field Coach reflects on his time at 1972 Summer Olympics in Germany

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GRAMBLING, La. (KTVE/KARD)— Head Track and Field Coach Betram Lovell at Grambling State University was once considered an elite athlete, earning a shot at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.

According to a press release, Lovell was a member of the Trinidad and Tobago team, geared to compete in the men’s 4 x 100 meters relay. During the race, one of his team members suffered an injury and the team was unable to finish the race.

It was an unpleasant end to his Olympics journey but Bertram says he is grateful to have had the opportunity.

“Just making it to the Olympics is a great accomplishment,” he said. “You feel that you did all the work and it paid off. There is no other feeling that you can experience like that.”

Tragic events occurred that year; making this a much more memorable experience for Lovell.

That year, Palestinian terrorists entered the Olympics Village and killed two Israeli athletes and held nine of them hostage. The terrorists and the hostages were all eventually killed along with one German police officer.

“It was just sad. It changed the whole tone of the Olympics,” Lovell said.

Although he did not achieve a medal that year, he went on to win a bronze medal in the men’s sprint relay at the 1974 Central American and Caribbean Games in Venezuela.

Lovell’s athletic gifts eventually led him to Grambling State University where he studied health, physical education and recreation; and later earned a master’s degree in sports administration.

As a coach, he says he tries to put the same type of time and effort that others invested in him as a young athlete.

“I try to motivate and encourage my students. My mom pawned a pair of her bracelets to go buy me spikes to run in. If it weren’t for her, I would not have gone as far as I did,” he said. Coach says his grandfather was also instrumental in becoming an elite athlete; encouraging him to run at 4:00 a.m. in the morning, doing mid-day and evening sprints, playing soccer and jumping rope.

“It was like an 8-hour-a-day job,” he recalled. “I ate, slept, and drank track at the time. I promised my grandfather that I was going to be the best in the country.”

Lovell says he is proud to say 92% of his athletes have graduated. He encourages them on and off the track and tells them, “You’re not here to run all the days of your life. You’ve got to have something to fall back on. You’ve got to get your education”.

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