Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 30 Tuesday November 27, 1956

TUESDAY, NOV. 27, 1956
200 METER SEMI-FINALS
In heat one Abdul Khaiq, “Asia’s fastest man” finishes fourth behind Baker 21.1, Morrow 21.3 and da Conceicao 21.4 and is done. The second race sees Stanfield and Agostini run the curve hard and coast up the straight in 21.1 and 21.3 ahead of Boris Tokaryev of the USSR also 21.3. There you have the contestants in today’s final a couple hours off.
DISCUS
This is the third time world record holder Fortune Gordien is the favorite for the discus gold. So far it hasn’t happened. This will be his last chance. All that is necessary to qualify for the finals is 154-2. Al Oerter leads at 167-11. Gordien throws 156-4 and Des Koch, subbing for Ron Drummond who opted for dental school, makes the qualifying mark by five inches. I’m guessing each American took only one throw.
Let’s flash back to June 16 and Berkeley, California, the NCAA Championships to be exact. UCLA wins the team title in large part because Al Oerter, the favorite, does not come through in the clutch. He can do no better than 168-9 and places fourth as Kansas comes up 4.7 points short of the Bruins. Had he won, the team trophy would be housed in Lawrence, Kansas right now. Wonder if he thought of that as he stepped into the circle for his first throw of the finals. No more is it a collegiate contest with fresh faced youngsters; it is the Olympics with the greatest throwers in the world, including one, Italy’s Adolfo Consolini, possessor of Olympic gold and silver medals, who was throwing before Oerter was born.
If any of this was bothering Oerter, it didn’t show. Throwing last in the first round, he won the gold on his first throw, 184-10½. He had two other throws over 180. Gordien, who had led at 179-7, could only improve another two inches, an effort that was rewarded with a silver medal. Koch edged Britain’s Mark Pharoah by five inches for third at 178-5½ for the third American sweep of the games. The great Consolini could do no better than sixth at 171-3½. Once the issue was decided, “the victorious Americans threw their arms around each other, hugging and patting like schoolgirls.” Long time rivals Gordien and Consolini “grinned, hugged and patted.” Lots and lots of patting going on.
STEEPLECHASE HEATS
Two heats, five qualify. The first heat included the world record holder, Sandor Rozsnyoi of Hungary and the defending Olympic champion, Horace Ashenfelter. Also in the field is young Charles Jones, better known as Deacon. Rozsnyoi takes the early lead and holds it to finish in 8:46.6, a time equaled by John Disley of Great Britain. Norwegian veteran, Ernst Larsen is only two tenths back. The surprise is Jones running a 12.6 PR to finish fourth in 8:47.4. Ashenfelter has a bad arch which forces him to make his water jump takeoffs and landings with the same foot. Even with this handicap, he runs 8:51.0 equaling his Olympic record. Unfortunately it is not enough and he finishes three seconds outside of qualifying.
The second heat has former WR holder Semyon Rzhishchin of the USSR, the dangerous British duo of Chris Brasher and Eric Shirley and the Chicago Track Club’s Phil Coleman who recently set an AR of 8:47.8 at two miles. Unfortunately Coleman suffers from a cold and hay fever and runs 9:10.0 to finish out of the money in 9th. Shirley leads a tightly packed group across the finish line in 8:52.6. Rzhishchin is the runner up. Brasher takes fourth. The final will be held two days hence on Thursday.
110 HIGHS FIRST ROUND
As we remember, world record holder Jack Davis bested his main competition thirteen days ago, running 13.9 to edge Lee Calhoun 14.1 and Joel Shankle 14.3. Three days after that he bettered his WR record with a 13.3 to once again beat Calhoun who ran 13.6 (13.5 in a heat), though the time will not be approved for lack of a wind gauge. Once again an American sweep is highly likely. Germany’s Martin Lauer is the only other hurdler with a chance for a medal. There are four heats with three qualifying. There are no surprises. Davis 14.0, Calhoun 14.1 and Shankle 14.0 take the first three. Lauer zips 14.1 to take the fourth. Tomorrow will see the semis and the final.
HOP-STEP-JUMP
If there is any event other than the PV and SP that has a solid favorite it is the HSJ. Adhemar Ferreira da Silva of Brazil holds the WR at 54-4 and is the defending Olympic champion. He has been the dominate jumper in the world for six years. The only question today is who will get the silver and bronze. The morning’s trials eliminate 10, leaving an unwieldy 22 for the final. The first round leader is Bill Sharpe of the US who jumps 52-1½. This is a surprise because Sharpe is only the second ranked American behind Ira Davis and hadn’t been seen as a contender. Normalcy returns in the second round as da Silva betters that with a jump of 52-7½. No sooner than he had put on his sweats, the stadium comes alive as Iceland’s Vilhjalmur Einarsson (say that three times fast) shocks the field with an Olympic record of 53-3½. His best previous to this year had been 49-10. Could this be the upset of the games? The third round sees Russia’s Vitold Kreer move ahead of Sharpe for the bronze with 52-6½. Unfortunately Sharpe is in no position to fight back. He has pulled a muscle and, after a foul and a 46 footer, has to pass his three jumps in the finals. With only five jumpers left, the competition speeds up. da Silva demonstrates his mastery in the first round with a 53-7¾ effort to claim his birthright. His final two jumps exceed 53’ as well. Einarsson fouls on his last two jumps and earns the silver. Kreer doesn’t improve and takes home the bronze. Sharpe is fourth with an American record and the thought of what might have been. da Silva says he has been so busy at his job (not mentioned) that he hadn’t really trained until a month ago. Also the cold weather has bothered him. “I usually compete in temperatures over 100 degrees.” Amazingly, no triple jumper is quoted complaining about the runway. “Reporters attempting to find an interpreter who could help interview runner-up Einarsson of Iceland were amazed to hear him say, ‘English will do me boy. I am a graduate of Dartmouth University in the States.’”
200 METER FINAL
The draw for lanes has Agostini, Tokaryev, Morrow, Stanfield, da Canceicao and Baker from inside out. Wiser heads have prevailed and the first lane is not being used. D.H. Potts uses poetic license to assume Morrow’s worried look is an injury that will be aggravated by having to run the curve hard. Later Morrow says it is because Stanfield is running so well. I’m thinking that it might have been because, you know……… this was an Olympic final? Potts says that “Poor Baker was so upset by his outside lane draw that he put his blocks in backwards causing a ‘get up’ at the first starting attempt”. Hey, I am just reporting what I read here.
The Americans run the turn well and come into the straight close together with a gap to the rest of the field. Morrow separates at this point and soon has a two yard lead. Stanfield holds on for second with Baker third. The times: 20.6, 20.7 and 20.9. Agostini picks up fourth at 21.1. The photo is at an angle, but it appears Baker is closer to Stanfield than Stanfield is to Morrow. Stanfield, the defending champ, says the track is two tenths slower than Helsinki. Morrow’s time is the Olympic record, breaking the 20.7 of Stanfield and Jesse Owens in 1936. Morrow says, “I was really worried about Stanfield before the start, but when we came out of the turn I had Stanfield covered and the race won.” Stanfield is quoted as saying, “I thought I would win today, but my body felt weak. I put all my heart into it, but I lost to a better guy.” Baker says, “My ankles hurt around the curve and I was unable to exert full pressure until the run up the straight, but that is no excuse. My only gripe is that In Helsinki I had the outside lane, and now the outside lane again here. It’s just one of those tough breaks. Anyway, I stand a chance of getting medals of all colors.” The 4 x 1 will be run Saturday. We will have to wait until then to know, Thane.

On tap tomorrow are the first two rounds of the 400, semis and finals in the highs and the 5000 and shot put finals. I’ll save a seat for you.

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