“Do not return without a victory!”
When the Golden Disc team hastily put together their human photo album, they couldn’t escape the politics of the day. The late 1970s were the focus of the Cold War. It is a testament to the integrity of their mission statement that these American scientists and researchers have captured such an outstanding picture of a Soviet icon, Borzov.
In making his final selections, Lomberg felt that the presence of Rigby and Borzov, an American and Soviet so prominently represented in neighboring pictures, was an element of balance and fairness.
Given the bitter competitiveness of the two programs during the space race, he has often wondered if the Soviets would have expanded America with the same courtesy – if the Golden Record had been compiled behind the Iron Curtain.
For any alien form of life in the distant future, such a detail will be completely irrelevant, but Borzov himself did not lose the gesture. He recalls how members of the Communist Party tried to motivate the Soviet team in 1972 and said, “It’s a golden anniversary, 50 years after the founding of the Soviet Union! You go to the enemy’s hiding place! Do not return without a victory! “
He had traveled the world and said, “We knew better than them how Americans actually behaved. I remember what was nice – a hot dog and a glass of Coca-Cola. We didn’t need the kind of rhetoric that was instilled into us before we left. “
“We knew better than them how Americans actually behave. I remember what was nice – a hot dog and a glass of Coca-Cola. We didn’t need the kind of rhetoric that was instilled into us before we left. “
Borzov was vaguely aware that his image was linked to the Voyager project, but only because some local journalists wrote about it a few years later. And until CNN contacted him, he had never seen the picture.
Surprisingly, he doesn’t particularly like it and exclaims, “It’s not the best photo!”
“First of all, the running position is not the best. The starting position is when the muscles are visible and there is a certain posture in which you can see strength and character – this is kind of a frame between the moments. “He continued,” I don’t like photos like that and this is one of the preliminary races, a work in progress, not the historic one. It’s not the last shot. “
Still, he asked himself Why he was chosen. Without being asked, he volunteers as a clean athlete, without resorting to the doping techniques that interfered with much of the Soviet sports program. “I wasn’t puffed up,” he said, noting that you can tell the difference between “a running rooster and a broiler chicken”.
Perhaps he was chosen for his running style, which – in his words – can be described as “classic, light and with great strength and intelligence”. Or maybe it was his all-round character, his “union of strength, athleticism, physical qualities, intellectual, psychological and other gentleman-like qualities”.
Borzov is now learning the truth about how and why he was sent to the stars, and his reaction is humble and earthly: “To say you are flying outside of our civilization would be a kick for a sane person. But the most important thing is that it’s a compliment from Americans. That deserves both praise and gratitude. “
“That obviously really touched me, and you can’t measure that.”
Of all Voyager athletes, it is clear that Rigby has the greatest understanding of the project. It’s something she’s been thinking about quite a bit.
Like Roberts, she wishes she’d been asked, but only so she could see the start and enjoy it in the moment. “I would have said yes anyway,” she added quickly.
“I was blown away,” she said. “I don’t mention it often and I don’t know why I don’t because aside from being born, having children and dying, the deepest thing I can ever imagine in a person’s life is because you’re a representative becomes humanity.
“It’s like an adventure you’ve been on and you just go, ‘Wow why me?'”
After Rigby retired from her gymnastics career in 1972, she spent much of the rest of her life performing on stage. It’s kind of fitting that she became known for playing Peter Pan, JM Barrie’s fictional character – the boy who could fly between the stars.
She resorts to this character to find the words: “It’s a dream, as Peter Pan says, this great adventure where you never know what will happen in the end.”
Where are you now? Four sprinters and a gymnast reflect this “great adventure”.
All five athletes had post-Olympic careers in their own way that made the lives of others governed. Rigby later played in musical theater and is now teaching children with special needs. Roberts taught physical education for more than four decades; Moorosi worked with the Department of Education and Sports in Lesotho. Su became Professor of Health Management in Taiwan; Borzov was a minister and a legislator.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images
“It’s just not something to worry about,” she continued. “But your heart can and your imagination can, and it makes you feel tingly.”
While the Voyager athletes were chosen to teach other worlds about our own, many of them eventually found that profession down here on earth.
Roberts taught physical education for more than four decades; After the Olympics, Moorosi worked with the Lesotho government in its Ministry of Education and Sports for some time, and Su became a professor of health management in Taiwan. Borzov was a minister and a lawmaker, and all of them were pioneers in their own way.
Rigby is now working with children with special needs. “I think my favorite thing is when these kids have that ‘aha moment’ and suddenly do something they thought was impossible. And they look at you and say, ‘What just happened?’ “