LOS ANGELES -- It is 12 years since Munich, and still the memory lingers.
There are 31 Israeli athletes who will compete in these Summer Games, and for them the Munich Massacre is a legacy that must be brushed aside, but never forgotten.
'I don't try to put it in back of my mind, but I don't try to live it,' explained Shem-Tov Sabag, a marathon runner. 'As an Israeli, I'll always remember who I am and who I represent.
'As a representative of Israel, I am here to do what they tried to do. We are here to continue their job.'
Since that dark day when 11 members of the Israeli team were massacred, security has tightened considerably at any Olympic gathering, and particularly in respect to Israel.
'Yes, there is extra security for us,' Sabag said Sunday at the UCLA Village. 'We don't want to talk about it much, we just try to follow the instructions of the security people and they let us know they are doing the best they can to bring us safely home.
'They try not to discuss it too much with us because that just raises the tension. Being intense about the security and being intense about the competition will bring the pressure up.'
Sabag, a 25-year-old sabra (Israeli born), has been a pre-med student at Augustana College in Illinois for the past two years. How did he get from Haifa, his hometown, to Augustana?
'I went to Augustana because it starts with an A,' Sabag said with amusement at his little story. 'I was living in Boston looking for a school where I could study pre-med and which also had a good track program. Augustana was listed high in the catalogue, and that's how I contacted them.'
Sabag, who goes by the nickname of Shemi, is a relative newcomer to marathon racing. Now 25, he didn't start until he was 17, when he received encouragement from a high school coach, and then he lost three years when he served with a tank unit in the Israeli Army.
'I did a lot of traveling and didn't have stability in my life,' he said. 'I was looking for an ideal place to train, and now I've found it in Augustana. Being a student-athlete gives me a lot of time to train and the stability which I need.'
Sabag's personal record for the marathon is 2 hours, 18 minutes, 23 seconds, more than 10 minutes slower than the world best time, and his goals for the Olympics are to finish in the top half of the field and break the Israeli record of 2:17.34 set by Yair Karny in 1981.
'I can try to do the best I can, and that's what I'm trying to do,' he said. 'My fundamental approach to any marathon race is first to finish it, second to improve my time, and then to see if I can win it.'
Sabag's performance has improved drastically during his two years in the United States. Last November he was eighth in the NCAA Division 3 cross-country championships and two months ago he finished second in the 10,000 meters and sixth in the 5,000.
'Running is my first priority, ahead of school,' he said. 'I don't want to look back in five years and feel I didn't do everything I could do to improve myself.
'Education is a lifetime process so I can do that at any stage of life. Right now I feelthe most important thing is to train, to fulfill my potential and see how far and how fast I can go.'
However far it is, Sabag knows he won't outrun the past, and the memory of 1972 always is most poignant at an Olympics.
'When I'm competing, I really don't put it in front of my eyes,' he said. 'I don't let it interfere with my trying. This is an opportunity to race with the best athletes in the world, and we want to enjoy it.
'All share the same feeling as I do, the feeling that gathers us every four years.'