Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vol. 1 No. 72 December 1959

DECEMBER 1959
Front page photos are of Ray Norton, winner of the top US trackman award, Parry O’Brien, the top field event man, and Martin Lauer, the Athlete of the Year. Vasiliy Kuznyetsov, the Russian decathlon WR holder, is named the best field event performer, but doesn’t rate a photo.
Let’s run through the events. Norton edges Kansas’ Charlie Tidwell for first in the 100. Bobby Morrow is sixth. Norton repeats in the 200, this time beating out Italy’s Livio Berruti. Eddie Southern certainly did not have a dominant year, losing four of his ten races, but somehow he beats out undefeated George Kerr who won their only match up. Chuck Carlson, who had the year’s fastest time, 45.9, is third.
Stefan Lewandowski of Poland is the 800 winner. As in the 400, it could have been one of several. His 1:46.5 is the second fastest time of the year and his victory over WR holder Roger Moens apparently is enough to rank him one spot above. But wait a minute, neither of them won that race. They were beaten by five meters by Sweden’s Dan Waern. Waern is only seventh. The fastest time of the year, 1:46.2, belongs to sixth ranked Paul Schmidt of Germany. If there is any truth to the adage that 88% of success is showing up then Schmidt got screwed. He ran an amazing 23 800’s in 1959.
Istvan Rozsavolgi of Hungary is the clear number one in the 1500. He has the year’s fastest time, 3:38.9, and is undefeated. Dan Waern is second. Where is Herb Elliot you may ask? That would be sixth. He concluded his season on March 14 and raced only four times, all miles, with a best of 3:58.9, never leaving Australia. Poland’s Kazimierz Zimny tops an exclusively European top ten in the 5000/3M. Third ranked Pyotr Bolotnikov of Russia tops the 6M/10K rankings which, with the exception of the eighth placer, Pan Am winner Osvaldo Suarez of Argentina, are also all-European.
Although Americans fill seven of the ten places in the high hurdle rankings, the top spot is taken by Martin Lauer of Germany, based primarily on his questionable 13.2 WR, four tenths better than his next fastest time. He lost only once, but never ran against the Americans. Hayes Jones and Lee Calhoun are second and third. High schooler Rex Cawley makes the list in tenth.
An undefeated season and the year’s fastest time, 50.1, puts South Africa’s Gert Potgieter atop the 400 hurdles list. Dick Howard is second and Olympic champion and WR holder Glenn Davis is sixth. And here is Rex Cawley again, this time ranked 8th. The kid may have a future in this sport.
The achievement of the seven foot high jump hasn’t seemed to have had a lasting effect. It has been done only once in 1959, appropriately enough by Charlie Dumas who jumped exactly 7’0”. This jump combined with an undefeated season up to a lackluster 4th in the dual meet with the Soviet Union is enough to rank him first.
The pole vault belongs to the U.S. Don Bragg, Jim Graham and Aubrey Dooley all have vaulted 15’5”, but Bragg’s consistency earns him the #1 ranking. Other Americans are Graham, 2nd, Bob Gutowski, 3rd, Mel Schwarz, 4th, Dooley, 6th, Ron Morris, 8th, George Mattos, 9th, and J.D. Martin, 10th.
As good as we are in the PV, we aren’t in the Hop-Step-Jump. No American makes the list. Russia’s Oleg Fyedoseyev wins 8 of 10 competitions and has the best mark, 54-9½, to take first in the rankings.
Our guys do better in the broad jump. Greg Bell, whose 26-7 is only an inch off Jesse Owen’s WR, takes first. The soon-to-be-great Igor Ter-Ovanesyan of the USSR is second. Irv Robertson is third. Not to be over looked in the soon-to-be-great department is 8th placer Ralph Boston.
If there is an event that looks rosy for the US in next year’s Olympics it is the shot put. Only seven putters have bested 60’ and five of them are Americans. Parry O’Brien’s first place ranking is the seventh of his storied career. He is followed by Dallas Long, Bill Nieder and Dave Davis in the 2-3-4 spots. Charlie Butts is 7th.
The hammer throw rankings are a pick ‘em sort of thing. Vasiliy Rudenkov of the Soviet Union has thrown 222-10 and lost only once. Olympic Champ Harold Connolly has thrown 222-8½ and lost twice (once being a lackluster effort in the Pan Am games). More significant is his other loss, a 219-0 to 216-7 defeat at the hands of Rudenkov in the USSR-USA dual. It is enough to give the Russian the first place ranking.
The great Janusz Sidlo of Poland takes the javelin title. His 280’8½ best is short of fourth placer Al Cantello’s WR 282’3½, but though they never met, Sidlo has a better competitive record. Kansas’ Bill Alley is fifth.
The decision as to who is the best decathlete in the world is perhaps the easiest of all. World record holder Vasiliy Kuznyetsov of Russia has had a dominate season. His 8357 total leaves second place in the dust by 362 points. Does that mean he is a shoo-in for the Olympic gold? Maybe not. That second placer is Athlete of the Year Martin Lauer who competed only once, but it is enough to rank him second. C.K. Yang and Dave Edstrom are 3rd and 4th. Wait a minute, where is Rafer Johnson? Not on the top ten list, that’s where. Injuries have made this an off year for the Olympic champion.
But what of the Stanford Fall Championships you may be asking? Sure enough, there is a short story with the lead paragraph, “Ernie Cunliffe, noted as a half miler, switched to the two mile today and ran 9:18.8 at the Stanford Fall Championships”.
The following has been gleaned from various columns. Dyrol Burleson “in a recent attempt to run four quarters in 60 seconds each” “with George Larson and Dick Miller pacing him. His first quarter was 59.5, the half in 1:59.5 and three quarters in 2:58. He was timed a 3:26 with a 220 to go.” The reporter goes on to say that Burleson was losing ground to Miller, didn’t realize how fast the time was and quit. Does this sound right to you? Me, neither. He runs 59.5, 60, then accelerates to 57.5, throws down a 28.5 220……and then quits? First, he had to have timers yelling his splits. This is a time trial set up for specifically for him to run fast. He knows his splits. Secondly, unless it is an extremely slow pace, milers don’t get faster on the third lap. He has accelerated dramatically on the third lap. He continues this pace (actually slightly increases) through the first half of the last lap. He is on world record pace…..and he quits? Something doesn’t ring true here. (Sorry, I couldn’t suppress that; it just popped out.) …….Of the 49 WRs existing in on Jan. 1, 1950, only one remains, Mel Patton’s much-tied 9.3 for 100 yards…….The greatest distance runner of all time? That’s easy, Emil Zatopek. At one time he held every WR above 2 miles, ten in all.
There are three “Profiles of Champions”, Dave Davis, John Macy and Ray Norton. Macy’s is particularly interesting. Thank God he shortened his name from the Jan Miecznikowski he was stuck with at birth in Poland. As a 14 year old, he fought in WWII in which his mother, brother and two sisters were killed. He was a 22 year old senior at an army school when he began his running career after realizing that he was faster than anyone else in the Polish army. In 1954, while in Bern, Switzerland for a meet, he requested and received asylum at the American embassy. He came to the US in 1956 and received a scholarship from the University of Houston.
A sample of his training is included. He trains six days a week, ll months a year. Mon: “trot” six miles; Tues: 12x120, a total of five miles; Weds: 5-7 miles; Thurs: 8-12x440; Fri: trot, exercise, hurdles; Sat: 6x60, total of 8 miles. Doesn’t seem much for a 5000-10,000 guy does it?
The shoe war has heated up. Cliff Severn’s 3/8 page Adidas ad has been countered by a half page Puma ad. Puma now has a dealer in the US, the aptly named Sports Equipment Corp out of Urbana, Illinois. Gill has also bought a half page ad: starting blocks and jump standards.

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