Road to Gold

This past week I read through the book “Road to Gold” written by Watertown resident Ben Peterson about his incredible 1972 journey to the Olympic games in 1972 in Munich, Germany.

As most all of our readers know, Ben and his brother John, were world class competitors in the world of wrestling. Their careers reached the pinnacle of success that year with Ben taking home the coveted gold and John the silver just minutes apart from each other’s matches in Germany.

Ben first published the book 5 years ago, but this was my first opportunity to read through it, and I found it extremely interesting and uplifting.

As you read through the book you sense their commitment to excellence was more than just on the mat, it was a way of life and it was and is intermingled with their strong faith.

The Petersons’ hometown was Comstock, a small unincorporated community of about 100 people in Barron County.

Although the book doesn’t touch on it, Ben went back to the Olympics in 1976, taking the silver medal and also was named to the 1980 Olympic team which never played because of the US boycott of the games. Those may be included in a followup book in the future.

It was some years after his Olympic successes when Ben moved to Watertown that I got to know him and his wife Jan quite well. Ben’s motivation to come here was to accept a coaching position at what is now Maranatha Baptist University, where he was on the staff for several decades.

It was another small coincidence in this relatively small community, but Ben and his family purchased a home right next door to my wife Mary’s parents so we often saw them and visited with them and still occasionally see them to this day.

I had always kidded Ben about seeing the Olympic Gold Medal at some point, but he typically said he keeps the medals at his Camp of Champs location where he does camps for young people wanting to learn to be better wrestlers. Instructors at those camps often include past Olympic competitors in addition to Ben.

He told me the medal is a huge motivational tool for these young wrestlers and he always emphasizes it’s within their reach, just like it was for him, but it takes hard work, dedication, commitment and so much more.

A few years ago Ben did have the medals at home and he brought them over to a nearby Fourth of July party. The medals and his brief message were the highlight of the day and something none of us there that day will ever forget.

My wife, myself and others actually got to hold Ben’s Olympic Gold Medal!

I highly recommend Ben’s book. It’s great reading and through it all, Ben is able to get the reader to understand the intensity, the drive, the commitment and the faith that melded together made him the Olympic Gold Medal winner.

The book traces Ben’s life from the early years on the farm near Comstock, through high school, his college years, and then the year round commitment to win at collegiate tournaments which set the stage for the Olympics.

The book is filled with names, places, successes, and some failures from which he and his brother learned quickly. The names are a Who’s Who in the wrestling world. The book is one of those where you just have to read “one more” chapter before putting it down.

It’s been nearly 50 years since Ben won the gold and his brother the silver, but telling the story in this format just doesn’t get old — especially with Ben and Jan living right here in Watertown and the great story he has to tell.

If you’d like to buy a copy you can reach Ben at ben@campofchamps.org and he can make it happen.

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