March 1, 2013
By John Hirn
Ram Alumni Athletes Association
Throughout the great and long history of CSU athletics the story of Glenn Morris has continued to capture the attention of fans for more than 75 years. Denver Post columnist, acclaimed Colorado Sports Historian and author Terry Frei has just published a very different and unique look at Glenn Morris in a way that would make a Hollywood blockbuster out of the Colorado Aggie turned Olympic hero.
In his new book, Olympic Affair, Frei uses the real life events of Glenn Morris during his trip to the 1936 Olympics as a basis for a "historical novel" where he fills in the gaps with fiction. Although some historical novels have missed their mark in the past, Frei does an excellent job of combining the history as we know it at the Olympics with a long rumored love affair while Glenn Morris was in Germany.
The story plays out with so many great characters it keeps the reader's attention throughout the book to the very end. Olympic Affair has The Gestapo, Hitler, sex, athletic drama, Jesse Owens, a forbidden love and even a cameo by Harry Hughes.
Terry Frei was inspired by the 2010 Olympic Oak Tree planting ceremony on the CSU campus and the renaming of the South College Gym to the Glenn Morris Field House. When CSU's own Tony Phifer suggested to Frei that he write a story in the Denver Post about Morris in 2010, Frei saw it as more than just a newspaper story and decided to expand it to a full historical novel.
In Olympic Affair, Terry Frei takes us from the summer of 1936 when Glenn Morris broke the world record at Milwaukee to qualify for the Olympic Decathlon team, to his fall from grace after a failed Hollywood career. The book concentrates most of the time on the summer of 1936, from the USA Olympic Team's departure for Berlin to just after the Games ended; approximately seven weeks.
For many years it has been rumored and mostly known that Morris met and fell in love with Leni Riefenstahl during the 1936 Olympic Games. Riefenstahl was a German actress and film maker on-hand to film the games for the documentary Olympia, which was funded by the German government as a propaganda film. Riefenstahl had close ties with the Nazi's and Hitler, making the story about her and Morris one of intrigue and even international pre-WWII politics.
Since we do not know exactly what happened between Morris and Riefenstahl, Terry Frei carefully researched everything from Riefenstahl's autobiography to records and letters of Olympic athletes who knew Glenn Morris. He then fills in the gaps based on actual historic events, which makes the story juicer where we can only assume what happened. It turns a story of history into the kind of story only Hollywood could dream up for their next Charlize Theron blockbuster.
Although there is some graphic language and sexual tone within the book, it does not detract from what Frei is telling in the pages of Olympic Affair. The most exciting part comes when Frei describes the actual two-day decathlon events and how Morris worked his amazing athletic magic to become the greatest athlete in the world. As the reader turns the pages they can picture the former Colorado Aggie great in the packed Berlin Olympic Stadium, tossing the javelin, running around the track and jumping the hurdles.
If there was ever a book about a CSU athlete that would make the finest Hollywood movie, then Olympic Affair has everything necessary to bring an Aggie great to life on the silver screen. However, books are always better than their movies, so now is the time to get Frei's newest creation before it comes to a theatre near you.
Olympic Affair can be found at the CSU Bookstore, Tattered Cover Bookstore, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Amazon Kindle. Terry Frei has authored the critically acclaimed books Horns, Hogs and Nixon Coming; '77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age; Playing Piano in a Brothel and Third Down and a War to Go.