World-class sailors Kelson Klam and Kelly Gough may live in landlocked Dallas, but they aspire to win the gold at the 1984 Olympics. Together, they have the potential to be as famous as ice-skater Dorothy Hamill, swimmer Mark Spitz – even the U.S. Hockey Team. And considering their track record, they’re well on their way.
In 1980, Elam and Gough were final contenders to represent the United States in the Flying Dutchman class of sailing. The U.S. Olympic Committee sent them to Spain to practice for the event. While they were overseas, Elam and Gough heard rumors that the United States planned to boycott the Olympics in Moscow. When they returned to the States, the rumors were verified, and the two college students were left disillusioned, disappointed and angry.
“After ’80, we weren’t really sure we were going to do it again. There were a lot of hard feelings,” Elam says. “You’ve gone from being pumped up and ready to go, and all of the sudden you’re the bad guys because you want to go to the Olympics. I’ve learned not to be in awe of all the fanfare.”
Time apparently has healed the wounds. Though they dropped out of racing for a while, the two sailors made a last-minute entry in the 1981 World Championship in Spain last October, finishing 15th out of approximately 100 teams. In August, they competed in the U.S. Nationals in California; and they plan to rebuild their boat by October. Then they’re off to the North American Championships in Annapolis and the World Championships in Australia in January. Next year, they’ll be competing in virtually every world-class championship, and in 1984, they will try out for the Olympics.
Both men have been sailing since they were children (Gough used to practice on White Rock Lake). As teenagers they were pegged against each other in junior competitions. The two finally teamed up when they both joined the sailing team at the University of Texas at Austin, where they made All-American.
Elam says he and Gough make a great team. Technically, their weight combination is perfect: Gough weighs approximately 195; Elam approximately 155. Elam is the fund-raiser and Gough is the technical man. And both want to get to the Olympics in 1984.