GSU Track & Field Coach Recalls His Time at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany

Bertram Lovell

Bertram Lovell

GRAMBLING, La. – July 29, 2021 –  Grambling State University (GSU) Head Track and Field Coach Bertram Lovell was among elite athletes who earned a spot at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany.

At the time, he was on a team from Trinidad and Tobago set to compete in the men’s 4 x 100 meters relay. However, after one of his teammates suffered an injury, they were unable to complete the race. It was a heartbreaking end to his Olympics journey but Bertram is grateful to have had the opportunity.

“Just making it to the Olympics is a great accomplishment,” he said. “You feel that you did all the work and it paid off. There is no other feeling that you can experience like that.”

But the event was made more memorable because of the tragic events that occurred that year.

Palestinian terrorists entered the Olympics Village and killed two Israeli athletes and held nine of them hostage. The terrorists and the hostages were eventually all killed along with one German policeman.

“It was just sad. It changed the whole tone of the Olympics,” Bertram said.

Although he did not win a medal that summer, the GSU alumnus went on to win a bronze medal in the men’s sprint relay at the 1974 Central American and Caribbean Games in Venezuela.

Bertram’s athletic abilities eventually led him to attend Grambling State University where he majored in health, physical education, and recreation. He later earned a master’s degree in sports administration.

As a coach, Bertram said he tries to put the same type of time and effort that others put in him when he was a young athlete.

“I try to motivate and encourage my students,” he said, recalling the people who supported him.

“My mom pawned a pair of her bracelets to go buy me spikes to run in,” he said. “If it weren’t for her, I would not have gone as far as I did.”

His grandfather also encouraged him as Bertram took to running a 4 a.m. in the morning, doing sprints at mid-day and in the evening, playing soccer and jumping rope.

“It was like an 8-hour-a-day job,” he recalled. “I ate, slept, and drank track at the time. I promised my grandfather that I was going to be the best in the country.”

Bertram said he encourages his students to do their best on and off the track. He said GSU has 36 championships and he would like to see many more. He’s proud that “92% of all my athletes have graduated.”

Bertram strives to instill in GSU students that track is important but it is not the most important endeavor. He tells them, “You’re not here to run all the days of your life. You’ve got to have something to fall back on. You’ve got to get your education.”

To learn more about the track and field program at Grambling State University, please visit https://gsutigers.com/sports/mens-track-and-field.

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university founded in 1901. The University has been accredited by 13 accrediting associations and holds accreditations in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. The 590-acre campus offers 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. Grambling State University is a member of the University of Louisiana System. For more information, visit gram.edu.