Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 12 Some Readers' Comments

About Lee Calhoun

The final of the 110 meter hurdle in Rome:
as you will see in the clips of that final from Rome, Calhoun had the
best start, as you can read, but you can't read, that his lead leg
went hard into the first hurdle and he was lucky, that he didn't lost
momentum more than he did in that moment. Lauer also had a bad passage
of his first hurdle, he hit the hurdle with his trailing leg and never
overcome that and hit several hurdles in that race!Calhoun ran a much
better final four years before in Melbourne.It's amazing that Track &
Field News never mentioned, that Calhounnearly lost the race in Rome at
the first hurdle!


Editor's note: Leif Bugge lives in Denmark and attended the Olympic Games in Rome. He has done some major research on Bobby Morrow, Harrison Dillard, and Dick Attlesley to name a few. We will be featuring some of his work after we've completed the Rome Olympics.

From Ernie Cunliffe
Max, Cliff and I easily got into the track again. Just as I was going in, Ducky Drake yelled at me. Rafer had been warming up for the hurdles and since Ducky couldn't get out on the track he wanted me to tell Rafer " that he was sitting on top of the hurdles". This seemed like an impossible thing to do and to this day after coaching track for nearly 15 years I am still not sure what Ducky meant, but I went as close to Rafer as I could and passed on the message. I do not know if he heard me because in his race that counted, he had a poor effort & I sort of figured out that the phrase meant he was slow on top and needed to drive his lead leg down faster. What did I know I was just a middle distance runner.

Late in the competition after the javelin, the 3 of us gathered around Rafer and asked him if we could do anything for him. He said he would really like some soup, so of course since Cliff and I were done and Max had a 10,000 in a couple of days, we nominated Max to hustle over to
the cafeteria and get some soup. It was slightly more than a 400 distance or even an 800 distance so Max being a 10K guy it was an obvious choice. Cliff and I again gave Rafer a quick rub down and avoided discussing the final decathlon event as Rafer of course knew what he had to
do and we figured we wouldn't bother him with our strategy and advice. What a thrill it was to see him hang in there right behind CK Yang and win the gold with Yang the silver. It must have been a proud moment for Ducky since he coached both athletes and I never asked him what he meant when he yelled at me to tell Rafer.

Ernie's Thoughts on Max Truex and Cliff Cushman

As mentioned previously Max Truex and Cliff Cushman were my roommates in Rome.
Max was stricken with Parkinsons Disease and ultimately died in March 1991 at age 55. Many speculated that he was exposed to motorcycle fumes while running the Sao Paulo Brazil Midnight Run. After a medical retirement from LA County as an attorney, he moved to Colorado and we saw each other on several occasions. In an effort to improve his medical condition, Max and his Dr flew to China where he received 3 stem cell transplants since this was not available in the US. Initially he showed some improvement but eventually he failed more up until his death in Massachusetts. We had become close friends at Oxnard AFB for 3 years and of course knew each other when he ran at SC and I ran at Stanford.

Cliff also was in the Air Force when Max and I were. He came to Eugene Oregon and spoke to my AFROTC class in spring of 1966. As an F 105 pilot he was enroute to Viet Nam. Cliff told my class that there was a 5% chance of getting shot down while on a mission.

He missed the favorable 95% and was shot down 60 miles northeast of Hanoi on Sept 25th 1966 which happened to be my son's 4th birthday and my daughter's 1st birthday (yep same day as I always try to keep things simple) He was 28 years old.

Fred Wilt, 1948 and 1952 10,000 Olympian, was coaching at Purdue at this time and I contacted him about Cliff. We became involved with trying to find out info about Cliff as he was initially listed as MIA (Missing in Action) We contacted various Olympic Committees around the world and I even asked Dick Gregory, who came to the University of Oregon to speak, if he might inquire at the N. Vietnamese Embassy when he was in France. I figured Dick "owed me" something as I always beat his younger brother Ron who ran the 880 at Notre Dame.

I also had a Sociology Professor as a neighbor who had run track at University of Michigan. He inquired at the N. Vietnamese Embassy in Cuba when he was on an educational visit there. For a few years we held out hope for some info, but nothing developed.

Some of you might be familiar with Kathy Loper who runs the Kathy Loper Events Track Tours which travel around the world to marathons, half marathons, and shorter races, in such places as Angkor Wat Cambodia, Mt Kilimanjaro, Great Wall of China , Victoria Falls, Solar Eclipse in Australia, Galapagos Islands & of course several races in her home town of San Diego. WHEW, but disclosure, no fee was given me for mentioning Kathy and her travel company!. Kathy is Cliffs cousin. I used to coach her in Texas in the early 70s and she got down to a 2:57:30 marathon. I see her each summer when she comes to Colorado. She last told me in July that nothing new was known. No body was every recovered so DNA is of no use at the moment.

Cliff's wife Carolyn finally requested that the Air Force change his status from MIA to KIA (killed in action) in November of 1975. She later remarried and lives in Fargo, North Dakota and I believe she and her husband have two children and Carolyn and Cliff's son Colin who I believe is around 47 years old now.

So the 3 from Rome have dwindled to just myself (will be 75 Labor Day weekend) and I honestly have to say that two better guys never lived and I treasured our friendships.

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