Twenty Years Ago Team USA Showed Its American Pride on 9/11
by Stephen Meyers
Twenty years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, a series of terrorist attacks against the United States of America killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
A day we'll never forget.
"Where were you on 9/11?" is a common question asked by many. And we all have a story.
Tim Yount, USA Triathlon Chief Sport Development Officer and longtime Team USA manager will never forget the 2001 ITU Duathlon World Championships in Rimini, Italy, where Team USA's strong camaraderie and American pride showed its full force.
He arrived to Italy on a Monday, and on Tuesday — Sept. 11 — went to packet pick-up where he saw TVs broadcasting the news of 9/11. He had a missed call from Larry Buendorf, Chief Security Officer for the United States Olympic Committee — “Call me.”
Buendorf instructed Yount on what the Team USA athletes should do to ensure their safety, with the recommendation for athletes not to wear any USA gear the remainder of the week. Yount called an emergency team meeting and the athletes filled the 160-person room as Yount broke the news to the team — a sign of the times, before smartphones.
“The room was pin needle drop quiet. Some started crying. Others were mad. We spoke about the scenario for about 15 minutes,” Yount said.
He asked the team if they wanted to wear their Team USA kits. If they did, they could be at risk for further attacks, as the USOC cautioned.
“Amazingly, all the athletes but one chose to wear the USA uniform. I can’t recall the one who didn’t but they might have changed their mind later after having seen the response,” Yount said. “I have never felt so much pride. Neither had the athletes. They wanted to wear ‘USA’ on their chests, butts and caps.”
American athletes wore their Team USA jerseys and outfits as the host city of Rimini, and athletes from around the world showered the Americans with love and support.
“People were no longer sad, they were thankful … that our sport could bond as we did and unite an entire world of duathletes who were at the event,” Yount said. “I have never felt anything like it and probably never will.”