Scott Hamilton celebrates 30th anniversary of gold

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 14, 2014 at 2:22 am •  Published: February 14, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Sarajevo.

To many, the mention of the Bosnian city produces shudders, memories of death and devastation from civil war.

A decade earlier, the sports world gathered there in 1984 for the Winter Olympics. That is the Sarajevo that makes people smile. It is the Sarajevo that endures for Scott Hamilton.

Thirty years ago this Sunday, Hamilton won the figure skating gold medal. It is hardly the achievement that defines him — he pretty much reinvented professional figure skating by creating "Stars On Ice" and has been the voice of the sport for decades.

But on the anniversary of his victory, part of a four-year winning streak that would seem impossible nowadays, it is very much worth recalling.

"Wet paint," Hamilton says with a smile about his most vivid memories of the Sarajevo Games. "I was afraid to sit down anywhere in the Zetra (arena). And you could get high on the fumes."

He's joking, of course. Hamilton's close win over Canada's Brian Orser wasn't the overriding highlight of those games — some ice dancers named Torvill and Dean performed to "Bolero," which produced a stream of perfect 6.0s from the judges. But it was the apex for Hamilton's skating objectives.

"I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams," he says, "and skating has made it all possible. To represent the USA as a competitor seems improbable. To go four years without a loss as a competitor seems improbable.

"It was the culmination of a win streak more than an incredible awakening. Everything I did in those four years peaked at the Olympics."

It wasn't easy.

Hamilton went to Sarajevo as an overwhelming favorite, and despite his outgoing personality, he had to go into shutdown mode to deal with the stress. He kept to himself or stayed with his teammates, preferring not to discuss his chances unless absolutely required.

"I knew some people thought if I didn't win the gold medal, that I had lost," he recalls. "I needed to leave all of that to after the event. I needed to skate my programs, get that gold medal, and that was all that really mattered."

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