Former international coach reminisces on time in the Olympics

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 7:35 PM CDT
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WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Olympics can spark dreams, but they also bring back memories for those involved. Vic Godfrey has served as a cross country and track coach since 1963 and his work has been known in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. When Godfrey got the chance to make an impact internationally in the United States Sports Academy he was asked to become the Chief National Coach for the Kingdom of Bahrain. He held that position for 12 years. During this time, we would coach Ahmed Hamada, who became the Asian and Arab champion as well as the record holder in the 400-meter hurdles. Hamada also competed in the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics. Finding out Hamada’s strengths was not initially as prominent as some would think.

“As a hurdler, he was an average 800 runner,” said Godfrey. “We were in Greece training for the Arab Championships in Baghdad. [We thought] let’s try him in the hurdles. A month later, he runs a 54 which is pretty interesting for a guy that’s 19 years old and as time went on he became the best in Asia.”

Considered a third son of Godfrey’s, Hamada reminds him of the triumph that comes from success at the Olympics. One moment that has stood out is Lee Kiefer winning gold in fencing for the women’s individual foil.

“I just watch the joy,” Godfrey added. “That girl in the fencing, an American won fencing. Normally if you saw that happen at a high school wrestling meet or something, you’d think they’re showing off, but no that was unadulterated joy.”

Following coaching at the Olympic level, the Aberdeen Central and Northern State graduate returned to South Dakota as Watertown’s cross country and track and field coach in 1989 before retiring in 2012.

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