INDIANAPOLIS -- A gold medal in the 1984 Olympics changed cyclist Mark Gorski's life. Now he wants to compete against the athletes who inspired his victory.
Gorski won the 1,000-meter match sprint competition at Los Angeles, becoming the first American to take the event. American cyclists, who had not won an Olympic medal since 1912, took nine medals in 1984.
Riders from East Germany and the Soviet Union, the rivals Gorski trained to battle, did not compete at Los Angeles because of boycotts. The chance to ride against them in Seoul has inspired Gorski to the fastest speeds of his life in hopes of earning a spot on the 1988 Olympic squad.
'The last three years I haven't had the desire I have this year,' he said. 'Having been there lets me know how good it can feel. What should put me over the top is experience. The East German and Soviet guys were the motivation to get to the level I got to. They were the reason I worked my butt off to get to the Olympics. I want to compete against them.'
Gorski, 28, of Indianapolis will compete for a chance to defend his title at the U.S. cycling trials Aug. 16-19 in Houston.
Cycling has become an activity for more than 80 million Americans and interest at the international level has helped create a U.S. circuit of top riders. Such an Olympic tuneup series was only a dream four years ago.
'Winning that medal changed my life an awful lot in every way, financially and in my personal life,' Gorski said. 'It has had an impact on the sport in general. The growth in the sport is a result of what happened in 1984 and the realization that cycling is a great source of fitness.'
Gorski, born and raised in Evanston, Ill., has received training contributions from sponsors interested in cycling. Money is not a hardship for him as it was in 1984 and as it remains for many U.S. Olympians.
'You become somewhat of a marketable entity after winning a medal,' he said. 'It took the Olympics. Cycling never did that before. Now I receive some money, much more than I expected. Being financially rewarded makes you do what you do better without the support.'
Gorski, a cyclist for 16 years, has helped inspire a new set of challengers he must overcome to reach Seoul.
'It's getting tougher every time,' he said. 'When I first got into the sport, there were only a handful of guys in it. Now there are a lot of guys out there who are physically better athletes. I'm at the point where I'm making a name. My mission is just to get there again. I've just got to ride well technically. It's not going to take an unbelievable ride to do it.'