Beginning our 7th year and over 2500 pages. A blog for fans of Track and Field from the 1950's and 60's, culled from various articles in sports journals of the day with added commentaries from readers who lived and ran and coached in that era.
We're the equivalent of an American Legion post of Track and Field but without cheap beer. You may contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or write a comment at the end of a given posting.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Vol. 2 No. 109 December, 1962 and the Track Goes On
Cross country is over, but wait, we still have a track meet to report. How can this be? Well, it seems that the British Empire and Commonwealth Games were awarded to Perth. Australia and November is the height of summer down under, hence that is when the meet was scheduled. Awkward for those who contested a traditional track season, but there you are. More than awkward was the temperature. No mention is made in this issue's article, but a little research has revealed that most days, if not all, were over 100 degrees.
John Davies (Tokyo 64 heat ahead of Burleson and Baran
The highlight of the meet has to be the mile where world record holder Peter Snell is the heavy favorite. He has already bettered old rival George Kerr in 880, 1:47.6 to 1:47.8. The first indication that Snell's confidence is high, but that he will just run to win comes the morning of the race when he runs a leg on the New Zealand mile relay. The second clue is evident right away when he trails the field through a 65 second opening lap. Obviously teammate John Davies and Southern Rhodesian Terry Sullivan, the primary competition, are running for the silver medal. The pace continues to dawdle though 2:06 and 3:09 splits. At the gun Davies and Sullivan take off. Snell is content to follow until the last turn when he surges easily to the front and finishes just hard enough to win. His 4:04.6 bests Davies by half a second and Sullivan by a full second.
Terry Sullivan, Africa's first 4 minute miler
The race with the strongest field is the three mile where New Zealand's Olympic champion at 5000, Murray Halberg, will be challenged by Canada's wunderkind, Bruce Kidd, Australia's Albie Thomas, Pat Clohessey and Ron Clarke, England's Bruce Tulloh and Derek Ibbotson and an unknown from Kenya, Kip Keino.
The pace is slow from the beginning with the mile marks reached in 4:35 and 9:18, playing into the hands of the uberfinisher, Halberg. In the middle of the 10th lap Kidd spurts into the lead, but it is too little too late. Halberg is right there. The bell sounds at 12:40. At the start of the backstretch it is see-ya time. Halberg is gone, en route to a 53.8 final go around. Now the battle is for second among Tulloh, Kidd and the surprising Clarke. Tulloh leads into the final straight, but Clarke and Kidd pass him with 40 to go with Aussie hanging on to take the silver. Halberg 13:34.2, Clarke 13:36.0, Kidd 13:36.4 and Tulloh 13:37.8. Finishing last is the 22 year old Keino who runs 13:50.0*. Who knows, maybe someday he will amount to something.
The 19 year old Kidd can't be faulted for lack of effort. Two days before the three mile, on a day that the thermometer topped out at 103.7, he wins the six mile easily in 28:26.6 and two days after he runs 19 miles in the marathon before dropping out for undisclosed reasons. An educated guess would be the heat.
The best field even mark comes from Michael Ahey of Ghana who wins the broad jump with a wind aided leap of 26-5.
* note: for whatever reason any finisher out of the first six in the three and six mile races is timed only to the full second. Leave it to the British Empire to conserve by saving tenths.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lLfQ4fodJI The youtube feed above shows a number of the above described races.
On December 2 Bud Edelen sets the US record in the marathon, running
2:18:56.8 in finishing fourth in Japan's Asahi International Marathon.
Track never seems to end in 1962. On December 20, nearly three weeks after the Commonwealth Games have been put to rest, the University of Oregon arrives to take on New Zealand in a four mile relay. The Ducks are the world record holders, having run 16:09.0 last spring. On the other hand, the Kiwis have Olympic champions Snell and Halberg.
The race is decided on the first leg. Vic Reeve, leading off for Oregon, falls on the final turn on the “mushy track” (remember New Zealand only has grass tracks) and loses thirty yards to Bill Baillie. The times indicate that either the weather is terrible or nobody really cares. Dyrol Burleson runs 4:08.0 on the third leg. Halberg only cranks out a 4:11.6 split. Snell anchors in 4:08.1, just fast enough to hold off Keith Forman's 4:06.2 as the boys from down under win in an uninspired 16:43.0 with the Webfeet eight tenths back.
On the same day, the first indoor meet, the Chicago Holiday Indoor, is held in the US. Don Meyers, the NCAA champion in the 1961 broad jump and 1962 pole vault, pays his way to Chicago to get a PV mark that will attract the attention of indoor meet promoters. He succeeds beyond anyone's wildest expectations. He hits the bar at 16-1¼, leaving it quivering, but stable. By the time he has hit the pit he is the new indoor world record holder, surpassing the mark of John Uelses by half an inch. Don will be a regular on the 1963 indoor schedule. (see article below)
Halberg and Snell circa 1960
This issue announces the TFN 16th annual world ranking. To no one's surprise, Peter Snell's five world records (two indoors, three outdoors) earn him Athlete of the Year honors. The following are ranked number one in their events. 100: Bob Hayes; 200/220: Harry Jerome; 400/440: Ulis Williams; 800/880: Snell; 1500/mile: Snell; 3M/5000: Murray Halberg; 6M/10,000: Pyotr Bolotnikov; 3000 steeplechase; Gaston Roelants; 120y/110m hurdles: Jerry Tarr; 400 hurdles: Salvatore Morale; high jump:
Ron Morris then and now
Valeriy Brumel (3 7/8 inches better than any other jumper); pole vault: Ron Morris; broad jump: Ralph Boston (9¼ inches behind WR holder Ter-Ovanesyan, but undefeated having beaten T-O in their only match, whereas T-0 lost to countrymen on another occasion); triple jump: Jozef Schmidt of Poland; shot put: Dallas Long; discus throw: Al Oerter; hammer throw: Hal Connolly; javelin throw: Janis Lusis (also fifth in the decathlon in his only attempt); decathlon: C.K. Yang.
One entire page is devoted to an ad for Nutrament. Nutrament is a nutritionally complete food. It provides all known essential nutrients. It can be used as an easily digestible pre-meet meal or supplement. It can be used for weight gain (400 calories in a 12½ ounce can). It is a convenient meal on the road. On top of all this, Nutrament is delicious. Reading all this makes one want to go out an buy can right now. Unfortunately, apparently the only way you can get this wonder product is by writing for sample two can pack to the Athletic Department, Edward Dalton Co., Evansville 12, Indiana.
And, yes, though we haven't mentioned it in quite awhile, Clifford Severn Sporting Goods in North Hollywood is still selling Adidas from the last page of every issue including this one. Some things never change. Here is a story on Don Myers from the Denver Post by Irv Moss in 2008
Meyers vaulted into success story
Reporter Irv Moss writes about stars from the past
Don Meyers became an NCAA champion for CU in the pole vault and long jump and was CSU's coach at age 24. He eventually returned to CU and succeeded Frank Potts as Buffs coach. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post )
Don Meyers blossomed in the spring.
Track and field was the growing period, and the warming temperatures and championship events brought out his best. If he were competing for the University of Colorado today, he'd be priming for the Big 12 championships this weekend at Frank Potts Field in Boulder.
History indicates Meyers would contribute something special at the meet.
"I tried to play basketball in high school, but with my big horned-rim glasses, I could barely see the basket," said Meyers, who attended Palmer High School in Colorado Springs. "I didn't play basketball very well and that left track and field. I always liked anything that had to do with jumping, and I had good coordination with my legs."
In track and field, he went on to become one of only a handful of college athletes to win NCAA championships in two events. The long jump was his specialty, and he won the NCAA title in 1961 with a leap of 25 feet in Philadelphia.
The pole vault is yet another story, but it also turned blue ribbon for Meyers at the 1962 NCAA championships at the University of Oregon. Meyers finished in a four-way tie for first place, all the winners clearing 15 feet, 3 inches. Later that year, Meyers set an indoor world record in the pole vault at 16-1 1/4 in a meet atthe University of Chicago.
"I picked up a pole vault for the first time when I was a senior in high school," Meyers said. "I fiddled around with it and found the event was exciting and enjoyable."
A few weeks later, he tied for the state championship in the pole vault, clearing 12-7 1/2.
Meyers credits CU coach Frank Potts, who coached 1968 Olympic decathlon champion Bill Toomey and 1960 NCAA 400-meter dash champion Ted Woods, for making him into a championship pole vaulter.
"It basically was him saying, 'Here's the pole and you run down the runway,' " Meyers said. "He built me into a pole vaulter from scratch."
While it became his premier event, Meyers never won the Big Eight title in the pole vault. A hamstring injury was a factor. But he won four Big Eight long jump championships — two outdoor and two indoor.
Meyers remembered Potts as a second father.
"It was a pleasure to be coached by a man of character," Meyers said of Potts. "He had a great way of letting you know he was interested in his athletes."
Meyers turned his attention to coaching when his competing days were over. He was an assistant for Potts in 1963 and became the coach at Colorado State in 1964 at age 24.
CU called him back in 1968 to assist Potts, who also was a member of the U.S. Olympic coaching staff. Potts retired the next year and Meyers took over.
"He (Potts) had handpicked me and wanted me to come back," Meyers said. "He still came out to every practice and stayed involved."
The best way to describe Meyers' personality in the coaching circle is to relate it to the energy of springtime, the new growth, the new blossoms and new colors.
"I wouldn't put myself in the category of a hard-nosed disciplinarian," Meyers said. "I had definite rules and regulations, but my style was pretty relaxed."
Meyers coached some of CU's all-time great performers in track and field, with the likes of Cliff Branch, Larry Brunson, George Daniels, Marcus Walker, Ted Castaneda and Chuck Morton.
Jerry Quiller, who is retiring this year as the track and field coach at Army, coached the distance runners on Meyers' staff.
In 1975, Meyers received an offer to enter private business that he couldn't turn down.
"I enjoyed coaching and it was a wonderful thing to do, but I realized that I wasn't going to be a longtimer like Coach Potts," Meyers said. "An opportunity came my way in the real estate business, and I decided to take it."
Born: March 28, 1940, in Colorado Springs
High school: Colorado Springs Palmer, 1958
College: Colorado, 1962
Family: Daughters Becky, Cindy, Chelsea; son Todd
Hobbies: Meyers says his dabbling in currency trading isn't for "the faint of heart."
Wishes: A condo in Hawaii
Note: George feel free to correct my use of German if it is awkward. Wunder and Uber exhaust about half of my German vocabulary.