For those of you younger than me, that phrase "the iron curtain" may not mean much. Back when I was competing there was a Cold War going on with the U.S. and its allies on one side and Russia and its allies on the other. It was a stand-off , of sorts, since neither country risked launching nuclear bombs at the other and get nuked in return, but we all wondered if that might happen some day when some people crazy enough got into power.
As a proxy, there were all kinds of other crazy things - wars in Vietnam, Cambodia - and, of course, the Olympics. In 1980, the US boycotted the Olympics in Russia to protest the invasion of Afghanistan (isn't it ironic?). In 1984, the Soviet bloc boycotted the Olympics in the US. In all of the other Olympics, there was continuous moaning when the U.S. lost to Eastern European athletes.
We were told that they trained harder, had better sports science, more dedicated athletes.
One of those athletes, Leo Frincu, recently published a GREAT book called Choosing Freedom.
To be honest, I originally bought the book simply because he is Ronda's strength and conditioning coach and I wanted to support him. The book is only 3.99 for the Kindle. I figured it would probably be some lame new age feel good-y thing about follow your dreams, blah blah blah.
I was wrong. It started out with Leo's early years in a kindergarten where all Roumanian children were sent during the week while both parents worked. He talked about being beaten and constantly hungry. Well - I don't want to give away how he went from there to world wrestling champion to American citizen and entrepreneur.
When we watch the Olympics in the US we almost never hear the stories of athletes from any of the other countries. Read Leo's book. For those like me who grew up being told that the medals won by people like Leo were vindication of the Soviet way of life and that we should all train and live like the Eastern Europeans, the book will prove especially fascinating.