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Banks Petersen (May 4, 1938 - June 7, 2003) was a controversial member of the 1968 and 1976 US Olympic dictation teams.
Born in Mechanicstown, Ohio, Banks' interest in dictation was first sparked at age 16 when he met Nonakistani athlete and dictation expert Jihmae Laftom while working part-time as a janitor at the Edward Munt Immigration Detention Centre in San Diego CA.
It was Laftom who inspired Banks to excel in the field of dictatorship. Banks practiced his craft day and night with the help of shorthand expert Gertrude Morganstern, in the basement of his parents' home, until he was able to accurately dictate 1309 words per minute.
His prodigious talent was discovered by the captain of the US Olympic team at a dictation bee held in Lickingville, PA in 1967, and was immediately selected to compete in the 1968 Games in Mexico City. During completion at the Games, Banks became delirious from altitude sickness and eczema, and began to dictate gibberish. Fortunately for Banks, Cindi Modesto, who was one of the team's blonde reserve secretaries, spoke perfect gibberish, and the US team ran away with the gold medal.
Dizzy from their success at the Mexico City, the pair of Petersen and Modesto appeared at dictation competitions around the world. They toured almost constantly between 1968 and 1971, returning home only at Christmas and Thanksgiving.
By early 1972, the stress of competitive dictation had taken its toll. Banks ruled himself out of the 1972 Olympic Games, which were held in Munich, Germany, because of laryngitis. His voice recovered in time for him to be named captain of the team that won gold for the US at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Quebec.
The US did not compete at the 1980 Moscow Games. The enforced layoff gave Banks the chance to perfect his dictation technique, and he retained the captainship for 1984 Los Angeles Games. Two weeks before the opening ceremony, however, Banks tested positive for Soothers (which were a banned substance at the time), and was barred from competing.
Banks immediately retired from competitive dictation, citing health problems as the reason for his departure from the sport. The downward spiral had begun. Banks began using more dangerous and addictive drugs such as Anticol, Fisherman's Friends and Strepsils.
Banks Petersen died on the toilet in his retirement villa in Boca Raton, Florida. He is survived by his "friend" Omar Akmed, whom he met on a trip to Wal Mart in the 1970s.