Inside Story: Family, Athletes Cope with Olympic Tragedy
"It's something no one should have to go through," says the son-in-law of the stabbing victims in Beijing
At the Peking Union Medical College Hospital, family members are standing vigil at Barbara Bachman’s bedside as she recovers from a stabbing attack that killed her husband Todd and sent shock waves through the U.S. Olympic men’s volleyball team.
“It hurts. It’s something no one should have to go through,” says the team’s head coach, Hugh McCutcheon, who is the Bachmans’ son-in-law. “Anger is not an emotion I will allow myself to indulge in.”
As Barbara’s condition was upgraded to “serious but stable,” the team continued to play, and win, in Beijing – all without McCutcheon, 38, who is married to the Bachmans’ daughter, Elisabeth, 30, and who was with her parents at the time of the attack.
McCutcheon has missed the last two victories, including Tuesday’s dramatic come-from-behind win over Italy, while he and Elisabeth – a member of the 2004 women’s Olympic volleyball team – remain with Barbara, along with Barbara’s other two daughters, Sara McGregor, 36, and Susan Bachman West, 34.
“We’re banding together as a team to lift up the Bachmans and McCutcheons,” says team leader Rob Browning. “We are a family, and we’ll get through this together as a family.”
A Wife’s Love
According to police, the Bachmans and Elisabeth were visiting a Beijing tourist site, the 13th-century Drum Tower, on Saturday when a Chinese man apparently distraught over family problems randomly attacked them in what is being called an isolated incident unrelated to the Olympics.
Todd’s second cousin, Dale Bachman, told reporters at a weekend news conference in Minneapolis, where Todd Bachman was the CEO of a chain of floral stores, that Barbara heard the attack behind her and then turned to help her husband.
“That’s when she was attacked,” Dale said. “To me, that was a strong indication of her love. She is a fabulous person.”
The assailant, identified by the Chinese news agency as Tang Yongming, 47, knifed Todd Bachman, 62, who was a few steps behind his wife and daughter, then went after Barbara, also 62, before taking his own life by leaping two stories off the tower.
Tang was unemployed, having been laid-off from two jobs in recent years, and was divorced in 2006, according to Chinese media.
Emotional Olympic Victories
That night, McCutcheon addressed his team prior to its Sunday game against Venezuela, which was coached by an assistant.
“To hear his voice and get leadership from him – he’s been the guy for the last four years to build up our team,” says U.S. team captain Thomas Huff. “He’s dedicated so much time and energy for us.”
As the team huddled before the match, Hoff says, “We wanted to have a moment of silence to gather our thoughts. It was a moment of silence for the Bachman family and Hugh’s family.”
The team won the close match against Venezuela, before going onto the victory over Italy two days later.
A Memorial in Minnesota
At the flagship Bachman’s store in Minneapolis, customers were greeted with a memorial of flowers and a poster of Bachman in front of a wall of historic photos of the $81-million business that has been family-managed for five generations.
“Now, sadly, this is part of our history, too,” Larry Pfarr, director of marketing, tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
• Reporting by CYNTHIA WANG and MARGARET NELSON BRINKHAUS