Cindy Bremser, 1984 Olympics

Cindy Bremser Pin.jpg

The 2016 Summer Olympics conclude in Rio de Janeiro with the closing ceremony on Sunday, August 21.  Featured in these games were 306 events held in 28 sports with over 10,000 athletes competing from 206 National Olympic Committees.  Viewers witnessed familiar faces shatter previous records and watched newcomers pave their way into Olympic history.

While the Olympic games may seem far away, Wisconsin has had its fair share of Olympians, one of which was a resident of Mishicot years ago.

Cindy Bremser, a Mishicot High School graduate, competed in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.   During her time at Mishicot, prep girls’ sports were lacking, and so she did not compete athletically in high school.  In 1971, Bremser attended UW-Green Bay and began running when she played on the basketball team.  Following the basketball season, she continued running for fun.  She then transferred to UW-Madison.  

Bremser did not start her running career until her junior year at UW-Madison in 1974, when she joined the first UW women’s track team.  While working towards her nursing degree, she ran competitively and was told by her coach that if she stuck with it, she could become a very good runner.

In 1975, Bremser became UW-Madison’s first all-American female athlete.  She narrowly missed a spot on the 1976 Olympic team by .18 seconds after finishing fourth.  In 1980, the United States boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union’s involvement in Afghanistan.  In 1983, Bremser competed in the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.  She was a silver medalist in the 1983 Pan-American Games before making her Olympic debut.

Bremser qualified for the Olympic team following her second place finish at the trials in June 1984.  Her hard work and determination had paid off – all while studying hard in graduate school and working multiple jobs.  She would compete in the 3,000 meter run.  In the Wisconsin State Journal article published July 29, 1984, Bremser stated, “it’s a special honor because this is the first time women are being allowed to run the 3,000 in the Olympics.”

She missed medaling in the ’84 Olympics by only .64 seconds.  According to an article in the Madison Capital Times in 1987, what should have been Bremser’s greatest moment in the Los Angeles Olympics was overshadowed by the famous Mary Slaney-Zola Budd collision in the 3,000 meter run.

Zola Budd hit Mary Slaney’s heel and sent her sprawling on the side of the track.  In an article from the Janesville Gazette in 1989, Bremser states the following regarding the collision: “I was back in the pack when the two collided.  I remember running past Mary and knowing that she was finished.  She was stunned.  We all were.  Nobody knew what happened.  But I knew the race was over for her.”

Following the ’84 Olympics, Bremser continued to run competitively for several years and was inducted into the UW-Madison Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991.

The Summer Olympics are always an exciting competition among athletes all around the world.  The athletes that compete continue to inspire today’s youth, encouraging them to be the best that they can be.  Cindy Bremser is an example that not all athletes come from big cities or start training at a young age. Her page in history illustrates that anyone can achieve their goal through determination and dedication.