Friday, May 17, 2013

Vol. 3 No. 31 October , 1963 , Tony Sneazwell Rediscovered

Our intrepid reporter uncovered a nice performance by one Tony Sneazwell, Australian of origin.  This a name I've long forgotten.  Sneazwell did a remarkable jump of 7' 2-5/8" straddling in a day when Brumel and Thomas were the only one's we heard about in High Jump competitions.  A number of things can be found about Tony's jumping career , even his old school logo, and  some video.  We'll connect you to that in this entry. He finished 13th at Tokyo in 1964 with a jump of 2.06 meters, and tied for 22nd at Mexico City with the same height.

Track and field in the United States has been washed, dried, folded and put away in a drawer until next year, but there is still action in the rest of the world. Two performances have captured this issue's front page mention and photos.

Czechoslovakia's Ludvig Danek has become the fifth member of the 200 foot discus club with a throw of 200-0½ or 60.97 meters in Prague September 8. A week later in Kiev he threw 60.96 to become the first to hit exactly 200 feet.
The other notable mark is that of Australia's Tony Sneazwell who high jumped 7-2 5/8 in Tokyo to move to third on the all time HJ list behind Brumel (7-5¾), John Thomas (7-3¾) and tie with China's Ni Chihchin.
Tony Sneazwell

Ron Clarke and Tony

Old Boys Crest of
Parade College where Tony attended public school and is now a distinguished alum

Sneazwell can be seen jumping at the following site.  Your computer may or may not be able to open it.

There is emphasis on the Olympic Games, both '64 and '68. Mexico City has been awarded the '68 Games, edging Detroit and Lyon, France 30-14-12 in the International Olympic Committee voting. Tokyo just held a dry run meet to get the kinks out before hosting next year's Games.
The Tokyo meet, the highlight of Tokyo International Sports Week, was held in mid-October, the same dates as next year's OGs. As this meet was not the focal point of athletic competition this year, it was too late for most of the top athletes to either show up or perform well, Sneazwell being the obvious exception.
The correction department: Remember the problem TFN had getting Mike or Jim Wood's name right? When last we visited that issue the young man was Jim. Not so any more. Now we are back to Mike. Stay tuned for further developments. .....Bill Baillie's WRs at ten miles and one hour also bear some adjustment. The track world has been taken aback by the correction of time and distance. After some study, the New Zealand AAA changed his one hour distance from 12 miles 960 yards to 12 miles 961 yards and his ten mile time from 48:10 to 48:09. Honest. (Anything to get those numbers a bit further out in the "Twilight Zone").
Take this for what it is worth. Dick Drake's On Your Marks column includes mention of this paragraph from the March issue of Ontario Track Monthly. “A Japanese TV unit visited New Zealand to film an exhibition mile among Arthur Lydiard's four best milers, but everything went wrong. Halberg left his spikes at home, he and Baillie forgot to wear their NZ vests and Lydiard lost his stopwatch. Snell finished last. (ed note: Do you get the feeling that somebody isn't really trying here?) On top of that, the TV camera ran out of film after three laps and Baillie, the winner, missed the starring roll of his life.” As the old saying goes, some days you shoulda just stood in bed.

Jim Dunaway in his appropriately named “Jim Dunaway Says” column takes on the failure the United States has had with its 400 relay teams in recent big meets. Citing disqualifications in the recent dual with the Soviet Union and the 1960 Olympic final, along with our 1956 Olympic win by a scant three yards over a mediocre USSR team, he cites the lack of practice as the cause. We have the best sprinters in the world, yet they don't have the sufficient opportunity to work together to achieve flawless baton passing. He lists three possible solutions which don't sound bad. The first is to have the fourth through seventh place finishers in the 100 be the team. They would be able to work together on a daily basis to perfect their passing. Now that the NCAA has the 400 relay in its championship meet, his second suggestion is that the US team should be the winner of that meet, thus providing a proven product. His third proposition would be to qualify teams that have placed in the top two at a major relay meet (Mt. SAC, Penn, Drake, Modesto, etc.) and have a runoff the day before the AAU meet.
There are two pages of Letters to the Editor. They run the gamut from a coach who has a seven year old who has run the 220 in 36.4 and adds, “I challenge anyone to top this mark”, (picture 7 year-olds across the country, putting down their crayons, turning off Bullwinkle, lacing up their spikes yelling, "Oh, yeah, we'll see about that!") then says that he believes the kid could run 35.0 “with longer training”.
At the other end of the spectrum is a tongue-in-cheek letter in which the writer mentions that he has seen that next year's Olympic schedule includes something called the “long jump” and encourages the NCAA and the AAU “to schedule this event – whatever it is – so that athletes from the US will not be completely shut out”. Could it be that the broad jump will finally go the way of the hop-step-jump and be replaced by a spiffy new name?
A page and a half is devoted to an article by European correspondent, R.L. Quercetani entitled “Athletes of the Century”. The title might be more accurately “Athletes of the Decade”, as he has listed the top three for each ten year period from 1900. Here goes - 1901-1910: 1) Alfred Shrubb (distance, Great Britain) 2) Melvin Sheppard (distance, US) 3) Ralph Rose (shot put, US) 1911- 1920: 1) Hannes Kolehmainen (distance, Finland)

2) Jim Thorpe (decathlon, US) 3) Ted Meredith (440, 880, US) 1921-1930: 1) Paavo Nurmi (distance, Finland) 2) Charlie Paddock, (sprints, US) 3) William Dehart Hubbard (100, broad jump, US) 1931-1940: 1) Jesse Owens (sprints, broad jump, US) 2) Rudolph Harbig (800, Germany)

Rudolf Harbig

Harbig in Berlin
Harbig (coat slung over shoulder) on the streets of Budapest, 1940
He competed until 1942 when he went off to war. He perished
in the Ukraine in 1944.
 3) Matti Jarvinen (javelin, Finland) 1941-1950: 1) Gundar Haag (distance, Sweden)
Haag defeating Arne Andersson in a 4:02 mile
 2) Cornelius Warmerdam (pole vault, US) 3) Harrison Dillard (hurdles, sprints, US) 1951-1960: 1) Emil Zatopek (distance, Czechoslavakia) 2) Herb Elliot (distance, Australia) 3) Bobby Morrow (sprints, US). He lists as favorites for the decade of the sixties Valeriy Brumel, Al Oerter and Peter Snell. Obviously there were athletes whose greatest years were in two decades making it tough for them to be ranked higher than one whose career was mostly in the same decade. Bob Mathias, whose Olympic decathlon victories came in 1948 and 1952, would be a prime example.
Undoubtedly these rankings will be the subject of long and loud arguments when the gang gathers for the regular Friday night track gabfest at the Dew Drop Inn. Let your reporter start the ball rolling by respectfully inquiring how the hell Bobby Morrow got ranked ahead of Parry O'Brien. O'Brien won two Olympic gold medals in the shot put, dominated the event by breaking the WR 17 times in the six year period he was the record holder, and reinvented the method of shot putting. And Paddock over Hubbard? Are you serious? Don't get me started.......Okay, that should get you guys through the first pitcher. After that you're on your own.

Dehart Hubbard  first African American
Olympic Gold medallist
Dehart Hubbard's Gold Medal
Hubbard in Action for the US

Alfred Schrubb

Wanna know more about Mel Sheppard? This is from the website of Rebecca Jenkins,author     excerpt from her book  The First London Olympics, 1908 .

The Almost Milers

Wednesday August 8, 2012

The 1,500 meter competition was one of the most exciting of the first London Olympics.   It took place in the opening week in the stadium on the 13th and 14th of July 1908.   The weather wasn’t good, but the field – for the time – was.  

The Brits expected to win easily.     They had a strong team led by George Butterfield, the holder of the AAA title from 1905-1907 and the man who ran the world’s fastest mile in 1906.   Butterfield, born in Stockton on Tees in the North East of England, was a 29 year old barman from Darlington who ran with Darlington Harriers.    The local press liked to tell how he once ran a race with a greyhound.  The dog came in second.

George Butterfield, however, fell foul of an issue that caused great controversy among the visiting athletes at the first London Olympics – namely, the British Athletics organisers’ insistence that only the winner of each heat should qualify for the final.    The American team protested from the very beginning this local quirk, for it meant that it came down to the luck of the draw as to whether a country's best medal hopes were pitted against one another in a first round heat.  (The draws were made in secret too – which didn’t help confidence.)
In the 1,500 contest, for instance, GB’s Joe Deakin, winner of Heat 6, got into the final with a time of 4:13.6 when George Butterfield was knocked out with a time of 4:11.8 because he had the misfortune to be drawn in Heat 2 alongside the US star of the Irish American AC, Mel Sheppard.  Unfortunately for George, in Heat 2 Mel Sheppard, a 24 year old from New Jersey, set a new Olympic record with a time of 4:05.0.
(This was all the more unfortunate, since Joe Deakin was running in the team race later that day and had been asked to save his energies for that - so he was never likely to do that well in the 1,500 m.)

Sheppard’s record didn’t stand very long that time.   In the very next heat, Britain’s Norman Hallows, a 21 year old from Doncaster studying at Oxford University, broke it with a time 4:03.4, only just defeating Italy’s Emilio Lunghi, whose time of 4:03.8 would have won any of the other seven heats.
The British, however, were still confident they would carry off gold.   Their bet was on little HA Wilson, a 5ft 4 tall, 22-year-old born in Horncastle, Lincoln who had won the British Olympic trials with a world record setting time of 3:59.9 that May.

Besides, numerically speaking, the odds were in favour of Team GB.   Among the eight runners who lined up for the final, at 17.20 on Tuesday, 14 of July, five were British.   They  faced one Canadian, John Tait and two American champions from the famous Irish American Athletic Club of New York: Mel Sheppard  and Jim Sullivan – knicknamed “4:22 Jim” by his team-mates for running the mile in 4:22.5 in 1905.   (For those, like me, confused by the difference – the mile translates as 1,609.35 meters and so takes a bit longer to run than the 1,500 meter race.)
The weather that Tuesday wasn’t conducive to great performances.   ‘The temperature was low,’ one sports journalist recorded, ‘and a strong wind, laden with moisture, blew across the field, where the athletes sat shivering in blankets.’   At the best count, only 18,000 spectators sat huddled on the benches of the 80,000 seater White City stadium braving the mizzle.
The race, however, was thrilling.   Irishman Ivo Fairbairn-Crawford, a student at Dublin University, led off, holding his lead until the last third of the race, pressed by Wilson and JP Sullivan.   Then, on the back straight Wilson pulled ahead with Norman Hallows at his heels.

 [Wilson] ‘led at the last bend, making the pace a cracker,’ wrote the Sporting Life reporter, ‘while Sullivan closed up with Hallows, but in the straight Sheppard came at a great pace, and, catching Wilson about 15 yards from the tape, won a grand race by about a couple of yards; Hallows, about 10 yards away, third.  Sullivan, who was lying fourth close to home, did not pass the judges.’
Mel Sheppard had matched Norman Hallow’s freshly made Olympic record with a time of  4:03.4.       Sheppard's gold medal was one of 8 Olympic gold medals won by members of the Irish American Athletic Club of New York that year.    8 medals out of  the 13  Olympic gold medals the track and field stars of the US team brought back from the first London Olympics (out of a possible 23 firsts open for contest in track and field that Olympics).  It was a glorious achievement.
Mel Sheppard with the US team manager, Matt Halpin, at the WhiteCity Stadium, July 14 1908

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