Sunday, January 29, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 10 Day 5 Rome Olympics



1960 Olympics – Day Five – September 5
After a day off, the competition continues today with a light schedule, just the semis in the 400, semis and finals in the hurdles and the first day of the decathlon.


Two heats qualify three for this afternoon’s final. These races go pretty much according to script. Willie May is looking oh so good. He runs away from Hayes Jones and Keith Gardner of the British West Indies and Nebraska to win easily 13.7 to 14.1 and 14.2. All eyes are on the second semi as it matches the world record holders, Martin Lauer of Germany and defending Olympic champion Lee Calhoun of the United States. The anticipation is unwarranted. Calhoun dusts Lauer 13.7 to 14.0. The only surprise is that Russian Anatoliy Mikhailov, who ran 13.9 Friday, starts collecting knocked over hurdles and doesn’t finish. Taking his place in the final will be teammate Valentin Chistiakov who runs 14.3. This afternoon these six qualifiers will set their blocks and have a go for all the marbles.
There are two races qualifying three for the final tomorrow. Otis Davis is looking good, very good. He floats the first half, turns on the heat in the middle of the curve, passes early leader Robbie Brightwell of England at the top of the straight and finishes strongly in an Olympic record of 45.5. India’s Milkha Singh catches Brightwell in the middle of the straight and takes second in 45.9. The Englishman gives it his all, but Germany’s Manfred Kinder nips him at the tape, 46.0 to 46.1. Kinder will run tomorrow. Brightwell will watch.
Qualifiers in the second race do so with some margin. Germany’s Karl Kaufmann has looks like a solid contender for gold through the first two rounds. Today’s race only cements that notion. He and Mal Spence of South Africa are out fast and hit the straight together. Kaufmann wins in 45.7 with Spence a tenth back. Earl Young of the US runs 46.1 to make it to the final by half a second over Nigeria’s Abdu Amu.
Just a note for you keeping score at home, there are two Mal Spences, this one from South Africa and the one from the British West Indies who was eliminated Saturday. What are the odds of two world class athletes with the same name being in the same event? To further confuse the issue, the BWI Mal is the identical twin of Mel. They go to school at Arizona State. sorry , I couldn't find a picture of South Africa Mal

The luck of the draw places May and Calhoun next to each other in the first two lanes. Lauer is to Calhoun’s right. Then come Gardner and Christiakov and finally, banished to the outside away from the main competition, Jones. One very good hurdler is going home without a medal.
The Olympic champion relies on his start and today it doesn’t let him down. At the first hurdle he has two feet on May. From that point May plays catch up, gradually whittling the margin down to a foot at the last barrier. May has better speed than Calhoun and now it is a sprint for the finish. May catches Calhoun in the last stride and they lean for the tape. There is a photo on page 14. May’s lean is textbook.

If you were teaching the lean, you would point to May’s finish and say, “Do that”. It is an A+ lean. Unfortunately for Willie, the defending champ is the one man with a better dip. It is so low that his head hits the tape. Of course it is the torso that determines the outcome and it is impossible for a winner to be determined without looking at the photo. The two great hurdlers wait, their places in history to be determined by what the judges decide. Five minutes pass before a judge walks up to Calhoun and says, “It’s you.” Lee Calhoun has his second Olympic gold medal. The time for both, 13.8, doesn’t matter.
Lee Calhoun comin' at ya

The fight for third is just as tight. Lauer bangs the second, fourth and fifth hurdle, but manages to catch Jones at the tape, 14.0 for both. Another photo must be examined before Jones is declared the bronze medalist. A share of the world record means nothing to the German now. He will go home without a medal.
Editor's Note* Lauer won't go home unrewarded, see 4x100 later) Of note, Lauer's career ended here due to an injury that included an abscess in his foot during the games. He went on to become a recording artist in the German country and western market selling over 9 million albums. See youtube He could have titled one of his songs, Ain't No Cowboys on the Berlin Wall. But he didn't

Lauer Today
The Last Rose on the Prairie

This if for you Track Trivia Buffs

Gardner and Christiakov are well back in 14.4 and 14.6. The relatively slow times are not caused by an oppositional wind. The anemometer reads .002 meters a second.
With the shot put and the intermediates in the book, this is the third US medal sweep of the Rome Olympics.

Johnson and Yang at UCLA with Coach Ducky Drake
The Taiwanese and Yang ran for "Formosa" at Rome, but the team stated it was under protest.

Vasily Kuznetsov USSR

“The world’s best athlete” will be determined today and tomorrow. It will be a contest among former world record holder, Vasiliy Kuznyetsov of the Soviet Union and the men who broke his record, training partners C.K. Yang of Formosa and the current record holder, America’s Rafer Johnson. This will be the medal club. Outsiders need not apply.
100 Meters: With the big three running in separate heats, Yang takes an early lead, running 10.7 for 948 points. Johnson’s 10.9 earns him 948. Kuznetsov gains 870 for his 11.1
Broad Jump: Yang adds to his lead with a 24-5 3/4 effort. With his first two jumps of 23-7 and 22-10, Johnson stays close at 24-1 1/4. For all practical purposes Kuznetsov eliminates himself from gold medal consideration by managing only 22-10. Yang 1984, Johnson 1854, Grogorenz (Germany) 1754, Kamerbeek (Netherlands) 1656, Kuznetsov 1643.

Shot Put: This is where Johnson has hoped to take the lead and indeed he does. The Melbourne silver medalist puts 51-10 3/4 while Yang can do only 43-8 3/4. This changes a 130 point deficit to a 143 point lead for the American. Kuznetsov moves to fourth with a 47-5, but now trails by 370 points. Johnson 2830, Yang 2687, Suutari (Finland) 2509, Kuznetsov 2460.
High Jump: The 100 meters started at 9:00. It is now 4:30. At 5:45, with the bar still only at 5-6, the heavens open up and a cloudburst drenches the stadium until 7:05. The high jump area is flooded but quickly drains. Whatever fleeting hopes of a world record that may have existed are crushed. As this is one of Yang’s best events, he had hoped to regain the lead, but he can only do 6-2 3/4. Johnson’s 6-0 3/4 lessens the damage and keeps him ahead by 75 points. Kuznetsov can only marshal 5-8 3/4 and even the bronze medal may be out of reach as he is fifth and now trails third placer Suutari by 144 points.
400 Meters: The rain has delayed this event to the degree that when the competitors might have been enjoying a glass of wine with their pasta, they are now lining up to run once around the track. Heats are being run as soon as the competitors have finished with the high jump. The track has drained well enough for Grogorenz to run 48.0. It is now a cold and damp 10:30 when Johnson and teammate Phil Mulkey have finished the high jump. Hal Bateman writes, “They decided they need a rubdown before running, so 800 man Ernie Cunliffe and hurdler Cliff Cushman gave them one.” Makes one wonder whether there are trainers available. Johnson is out early, but Yang catches him on the curve and holds a five meter advantage into the straight. Johnson makes up all but two of that and they finish in 48.1 and 48.3 At the end of the day the point totals read Johnson 4647, Yang 4592, Gregorenz 4077, Suutari 4031 and Kuznetsov 3999. Enjoy your evening, fellas. See you at 9 AM tomorrow.

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