Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic Illness

Our look at Montana sports and champions continues with Eric Flaim, an Olympic speed skater from Butte...

Travelers often complain of strange food and bouts of illness known as Montezuma's revenge, Delhi belly, Turkey trots, and other geographically descriptive distresses. Olympic athletes are susceptible to those upsets like everyone else. And sometimes those distresses cause more trouble than a little discomfort.  Speed skater Eric Flaim of Butte discovered how costly a case of food poisoning could be during the Winter Games in Albertville, France in 1992.

Photo from
Eric had won a silver medal in 1988 at Calgary and looked forward to doing well in France. But there was a problem. Eric, along with other athletes, complained bitterly about the food in the Olympic Village. A number of them resorted to cooking for themselves. Eric said that he finally got so sick of his own cooking that he felt compelled to venture out to try the Olympic Village food one more time. It was a bad mistake. He found that not even his own cooking made him as ill as the food in the Village. He was so sick that he was afraid he could not race, and the doctors could not give him the proper medication because of the strict Olympic drug rules. Eric had fallen in a previous race and come back to do well, but he told a reporter that recovering from a fall was one thing. Getting sick and losing everything from your system was a different matter. The bout of food poisoning he endured was so debilitating that it ruined his chances of a medal. He lost his opportunity not to the skating oval, but to the Olympic Village dining room. He did, however, come back in 1994 to earn a silver medal at the Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

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