Centennial Park bombing survivor shocked by attack on Bachmans
BEIJING -- The shrapnel still sits in Calvin Thorbourne's leg 12 years later, and every time the Olympics roll around, he feels a little ache.
Thorbourne had a birthday on Aug. 8, the start of these Beijing Games. He thought that was fitting. The next day, he turned on the TV to see it had happened again, that American civilians were random victims at the Olympics.
The attacker, 47-year-old Tang Yongming, leapt to his death from a balcony on the tower, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Thorbourne was a record store supervisor in 1996, when he and some buddies went to Centennial Park to listen to music and get as close to the Olympics as a young man without tickets could. He felt safe that night. The place was packed. "It was a great time for Atlanta," he said.
At 1:20 a.m., as Thorbourne was getting ready to leave, a bomb ripped through the town square. Alice Hawthorne, a mother of two, was killed. Thorbourne was among 111 injured.
"I couldn't even fathom that somebody could plant a bomb," Thorbourne said. "A bomb? That was something I saw in other countries on the news. I never thought that could happen."
In Beijing, an Olympic fortress under tight police scrutiny, Saturday's events also seemed unfathomable. The Bachmans apparently were out sightseeing, passing time just hours before McCutcheon, who is married 2004 Olympic volleyball player Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman, was supposed to coach in his team's Sunday opener.
Thorbourne hopes the weekend events don't deter people from attending the Olympics. As he watched the previews for Opening Ceremony, he wished he was in Beijing.
"I still would go," he said. "I like Olympic sports. I like the festivities. I like that the whole world comes together."
Elizabeth Merrill writes for ESPN.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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