Robin Cousins' day of gold – archive, 1980

John Samuel
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Robin Cousins at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: STAFF/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Robin Cousins at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. Photograph: STAFF/AFP/Getty Images

Lake Placid
After a champagne celebration in the Lake Placid Olympic Village and six hours’ sleep, Britain’s Olympic figure skating champion, Robin Cousins, woke yesterday to messages of congratulations from all over the world and an unexpected offer.

This came from the entrepreneur Larry Parnes, who is offering Cousins $75,000 for six head-to-head duels with Britain’s 1976 champion John Curry.

“He’s off his nut,” said Cousin. “It’s impossible. It is hard to accept that after 13 years of hard work and in 10 minutes of free skating, I’m a celebrity. That is big show business. I can’t accept that anything will change all that work until after Dortmund and the World Championships next month.”

Carlo Fassi, who coached both Curry and Cousins to their titles, was equally dismissive. “How do you make such a competition? It’s like having two people shooting for goals at soccer,” he said.

Cousins skated first of the six competitors in the free skating, and afterwards went straight to the practice arena to watch Linda Fratianne, America’s world champion, and saw none of his rivals.

“I was coming back to the skaters’ room when four people came rushing through to say I’d won. I felt really strange. When I went for my medal I tripped because I didn’t feel my feet. I was totally out of control. I could see the flags and hear the music, that was all.”

Cousins comes from Bristol, although he trains with Fassi in Denver.

“We competitors laugh and joke together. Jan is a friend, so is Charlie Tickner,” he said. “it doesn’t matter if we’re British, American or East German.”

After his routine, he received his first bunch of flowers and kiss from 16-year-old Karen Holmes, who skates as a junior at Silver Blades Rink, Birmingham. She and her father, Eric, paid £1,500 for a week’s package and extras - mostly to see Cousins skate.

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