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Olympian Recalls Competing in 1996 Olympics

Melissa Foy introduces us to one of handball's best competitors right here in Wichita Falls; an athlete who competed in the 1996 Olympic games.
    When you walk into the Wichita Falls AT&T store, Cliff Mannon's commanding presence and friendly nature immediately grab your attention.
    It's around this time every four years that Mannon is reminded of an exciting time in his life.
    "Surreal might be the best word for it," he says.
    Mannon was part of the US mens handball team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
    "Sixteen players made the team.  They brought three goalies, and I was the number one goalie at the time," Mannon says.
    He says a lot of memorable moments came from the Olympic games, including the final game the team played together.
    "Our last game we finished in overtime," Mannon says.  "I made a save at the end of regulation to send it into overtime.  We were tied up at the end, and we scored on a nine meter penalty shot."
    The team finished ninth overall.
    "It's the best finish we've ever had in the united states still to this day.  We played better than any team had before us," Mannon says .
    Not to be confused with the handball most people think of involving a small room and small hard ball, team handball of the Olympics involves two teams of six players each and a goalie.
    They pass the size three soccer ball and try to throw it into the goal to score.
    Matches consist of two 30 minute periods.
    This year's US mens handball team didn't make the games.
    "Nobody here really gets playing it young," Mannon says.  "It's later on when they get to play, whereas in Europe, they're playing it from five or six years old."
    Mannon was offered a contract play handball in Europe after the Olympic games, but turned it down so he could focus on his family.
    "It was kind of nice to retire from the sport at that point in time and move on having that in my back pocket," Mannon says.
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