Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 46 The 1964 Olympic Games Day One October 14


Opening Ceremonies


Welcome to the first day of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. We hope you brought your raincoat and bumbershoot because this morning's weather is alternating between mist and rain punctuated by gusty winds. Bundle up and let's see what is on the agenda. Today will feature the first two rounds of the 100 meters, the first rounds of the 800 and 400 intermediate hurdles, qualifying and final in the javelin and the final in the 10,000 meters.
The javelin, always an inconsistent event, is made more so by the wind and 62 degree temperature. The field includes 15 throwers with bests over 260 feet. Seventy-seven meters (252-7) is the automatic qualifying distance. Regardless of marks, the top 12 will make the final. Janis Sidlo of Poland, a favorite here as he was in Melbourne and Rome, is the only thrower to come close to the automatic qualifier in the first round with an effort of 252-4. Only three others exceed 240 feet.
Les Tipton
In the second round Switzerland's Urs Von Wartburg qualifies with a national record of 262-2½. Americans Ed Red (237-3) and Les Tipton (232-1) take 11th and 12th .
The third round decides who will return for this afternoon's final. Carlo Lievore of Italy displaces Tipton by five inches but is immediately eliminated by Germany's Herman Solomon who throws 235-11½.

Ever wonder about Ed Red, who was a trivia question for years?  Who has the shortest name in Track and Field?
This paragraph is found in Rice Univesity Athletics Hall of Fame, 1980.

He is now a distinguished academician who teaches engineering, but as a Rice undergrad student husky Ed Red brought international attention to Rice University by his exploits as one of the world's best performers in throwing the javelin. The peak of his career came in the fall of 1964 when he placed 11th in the Olympic Games, held that year in Tokyo, for the USA. That was an unusually high finish for an American, for Europeans rather dominate that event at the world level of competition. Strong arm Ed Red came to Rice from his native state of Louisiana to become one of the finest student-athletes to represent the Owls in school history. Freshmen were not eligible for varisty competition in '61 or Ed would have been a four-time Southwest Conference champion, but he won the SWC title and set records in 1962, 1963 and 1964. In fact, his success began a string of javelin title for the Owls of that era under Emmett Brunson and aide Audio Erfurth. Rice men won the javelin crown for the SWC 10 of 12 times, starting with Red's three in a row. His career best as an Owl was 263 feet in summer competition at an AAU meet, but his SWC record of 249-3 set as a junior in 1963 stood for an amazing 16 years before it was broken finally in 1979. Red continued as a javelin competitor for several years after getting his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Rice in 1965 while he was doing graduate work and teaching. Dr. Red exemplifies the familiary story of a Rice athlete who succeeds in his athletic specialty, but also takes advantage of his Rice academic background to become successful in career endeavors. After earning a Ph.D. from Arizona State in 1972m he moved on to teaching posts at U. of Southwest Louisiana and U. of New Mexico, and at this writing in 1980 was an associate professor at Texas A&M and helping coach Aggie javelin throwers as a special hobby. He also coached American record holder Mark Murro, and his brother-in-law, Richard George, who was in the Olympic Games at Montreal in 1976.

Now at the head of the runway is the world record holder, Terje Pedersen of Norway. In July he took the record with a throw of 87.12 meters (285-9) and just six weeks ago improved it to a phenomenal 91.72 (300-11).
Pederson on his 91.72 meter throw
He is a co-favorite with Sidlo and Janis Lusis of the Soviet Union. But history's only 300 foot thrower is in trouble. His first throw was only 201-5 and his second, not much better at 219-1. His hopes ride on this next throw. He must displace Solomon to reach the final. He does. His 236-6 drops the German, but now Pedersen is in the precarious 12th spot. Two minutes later his Olympic dreams are crushed when Russia's Vladimir Kuznyetsov achieves the fourth best mark of the morning, 246-1, dropping Pedersen to 13th and out of the final.
Now it is Red who is in 12th. He has to sweat out throws by teammates Frank Covelli and Tipton and Norway's Willie Rasmussen, the 1960 fifth placer, before he is in the finals. None match his mark and Red is in. Covelli's best throw is only 223-4.

The first round has ten heats with three qualifying in each. The weather and lack of urgency produce slow times. Trenton Jackson takes heat two in 10.5. Mel Pender runs the same time finishing an eased up second in the next heat. Bob Hayes surprises no one by taking the eighth heat in 10.4.
The Americans survive the second round as well. Jackson runs 10.4 for second behind Harry Jerome's 10.3 in the first race. Enrique Figerola of Cuba and Weislaw Maniak of Poland show they are up for the challenge running 1-2 in 10.3 in the second quarterfinal. Pender is second once again in the third race, finishing a tenth behind the 10.3 of Tom Robinson of the Bahamas. Bob Hayes does the expected in the final 100 meters of the day, winning in 10.3. The semis and final will be tomorrow.

The question many had asked, whether Peter Snell would defend his 800 title from Rome, was answered when the world record holder confirmed his entry. There had been some doubt as to his condition and intention to run the two lapper as Snell had stated that his primary goal was to win the 1500. He would let his training dictate whether he would attempt the 800 – 1500 double. If his season thus far is any indication, his training, done in secret, must have gone better than his racing which has been infrequent and unspectacular, for here he is, scheduled to run in heat four.
The first heat produces the fastest time of the day as Kenya's Wilson Kiprugut PRs in 1:47.8. Tom Farrell of the US is second in 1:48.6, easily qualifying for tomorrow's semifinal.
Germans Dieter Bognatzki and Manfred Kinder take the second and third heats, but the US suffers a major disappointment in the latter race as Morgan Groth, whose 1:45.9 in August is the second fastest 880 ever, fades badly in the stretch and finishes a nonqualifying six in 1:51.4. Disappointing as this is, it is not unexpected. Groth aggravated an Achilles tendon injury in a bicycle accident and hasn't been able to train for two weeks.
The fourth heat give proof that Snell's amazing acceleration hasn't left him. He runs last until the final straight then puts on a burst to win easily in 1:49.0. Jerry Siebert places second in 1:49.2. Normally Siebert's qualifying would be an assumed fact, but Jerry has been fighting undulant fever. After winning the New York trials Siebert trained in Finland where he contracted the disease drinking unpasteurized milk.
The fifth heat produces a major casualty. Noel Carroll, Ireland's 1962 European champion, never challenges and finishes a nonqualifying fifth in 1:51.1 as Britain's John Boulter and Jamaica's George Kerr go 1-2 in 1:48.9.
The sixth and final heat goes accordin
g to form.
First Round
Crothers (1:49.3) following Mamoru Morimoto, Japan(1:49.9), and
Maurice Lurot ,France ( 1:49.8) trailing
Bill Crothers, the main threat to dethrone Snell, glides home an easy winner in 1:49.3. Twenty-four runners will return tomorrow for the three semifinals.


Pauli Nevalan  Gold for Finland

Janis Lusis Silver for USSR

Tokyo Podium
Kulcsar, Nevalan, Lusis

Gergely Kulcsar rt. with Miklos Nemeth

An hour and forty-five minutes after this morning's competition, the twelve qualifiers, all European except American Ed Red, are ready to decide who goes home with a medal. After three rounds the field will be cut to six. Consistency will be at a premium in this very inconsistent event. A gusting wind adds to the difficulty.
Poland's Janusz Sidlo shows why he is a favorite, throwing 263-0 to lead after the first round. His lead is short lived however as the other favorite, Janis Lusis of the Soviet Union pops a 264-4 in the second round, a mark that holds up through the third go round. At the halfway point of the competition it is Lusis, Sidlo and Urs Von Wartburg (258-3) in line for the hardware.
Swiss thrower Urs Von Wartburg (153)
might also have been an Elvis impersonator
Also in the competition is Hungarian Gergeley Kulcsar and Finns Jorma Kinnunen and Pauli Nevalan. American Red threw only 234-7½ and finishes 11th.

The fourth round changes everything. Kulcsar surprises with a national record of 270-1. Now the medal order is Kulcsar, Lusis and Sidlo. But not for long. Next up is Nevalan, the 23 year old whose 283- 2½ led the world last year, but whose performances this year haven't earned him serious medal consideration. The young Finn's season is transformed in one throw. His spear lands 271-2½ away, 13½ inches beyond Kulcsar's throw. Though dramatic, the final two rounds produce no change. Pauli Nevalan is the first gold medalist of the Toyko games. Kulcsar takes silver and Lusis bronze.

There are five heats with the first three and the fastest fourth qualifying for tomorrow's semifinals.
The British Empire is well represented in the first race as Britain's John Cooper and Australia's Gary Knoke are impressive in finishing 1-2 in 50.5 and 50.9. World record holder Rex Cawley takes the second heat in 50.8. In the next race teammate Jay Luck eases home third in 51.7. Italy's Salvatore Morale, the previous world record holder (with Glenn Davis), easily wins the next heat in 51.1
Billy Hardin becomes the third US qualifier for the semis when he wins the final heat in 51.3.



Here is a link to the official olympic version of the race.  How many times have you seen this race?  Does it ever fail to electrify?  

The track, which was puddled with rain this morning, has dried and the sun is making occasional appearances through the clouds. The temperature is a comfortable 65 degrees as the 38 runners line up for the last race of the day. The favorites are world record holder at 28:15.6, Ron Clarke of Australia, defending Olympic champion Pyotr Bolotnikov of the Soviet Union and 1960 Olympic 5000 meter champion Murray Halberg of New Zealand. None are without their Achilles heel. Clarke, though a courageous pace setter, can be beaten in a tactical race. It will be his job to set a challenging pace. Bolotnikov didn't run well in the US dual meet so he will have to prove that his training since then has brought him back to something close to his former world dominance. Halberg has the kind of kick that Clarke does not, but he has never run as well at 10,000 as he has at 5000.

This is not to say that the big three have a lock on the medals. Russians Leonid Ivanov and Nikolay Dutov have both run 28:40. New Zealand's Bill Baillie, the world record holder at 20,000, is finally healthy after years of injuries. It would not be a shock were he to win as he is a big kicker. Great Britain's Mike Bullivant and Ron Hill are definitely in the hunt.

An intriguing possibility for a medal is the surprising high school kid from the US, Gerry Lindgren. He thumped the Russians in the dual meet and, were he completely healthy, well who knows? The problem is that he is hampered by an ankle sprain and has picked up a virus. The other US entrants, Ron Larrieu and Billy Mills, have traded wins this year. Mills was second to Larrieu's third in the Olympic trials, but later was beaten in Larrieu's American record six mile. Both appear to be over their heads in this field.

As the runners assemble at the start it looks like a dual meet between the Soviet Union (Bolotnikov, Ivanov and Dutov) and the British Empire (Halberg, Baillie, Clark, Hill and Bullivant). In less than thirty minutes we will find out which language is used to interview the winner.

The leaders run 64 on the first lap, reach four laps in 4:21.5 and eight in 8:55. The first surprise comes on the next lap. The lead group of ten is diminished by one as Halberg, feeling the effects of a virus, drops back. The nine stay together for three laps, but then a 66.4 lap spreads them out. At 5000 meters the pack is down to five led by the surprising Mills. His 14:04.6 split is just seven seconds off his best for this distance. As proud as the US fans are, the knowledgeable among them realize that this can't continue very long.
Six hundred meters later, as the sun disappears behind the clouds, the lead group becomes more exclusive as Dutov lets go. Only Clarke, Tunisian Mohamed Gamoudi, Ethiopian Mamo Wolde and the surprising Mills are left. For the next 8½ laps they stay together. With a thousand meters left a world record isn't possible, but an Olympic record is certain. Two hundred meters more and Wolde allows a ten yard gap to open. American fans are ecstatic. Mills is running strongly. The United States hasn't won a medal in the Olympic 10,000 since 1912. Delirium rules the American section of the stadium. For the first time the fans can allow themselves to believe that Mills will win a bronze medal.

As the trio begins the final lap, they are faced with strung out field of lapped runners. On the backstretch Mills, on the outside of Clarke, has a slight lead as they come up on a lapped runner. Clarke expects Mills to move out. He doesn't. Clarke taps Mills' shoulder. No response so the tap becomes a push. Mills moves out, too far out, for Gamoudi elbows his way between them and starts pulling away.

Clarke gives chase, but Mills is four yards back. As they come onto the straight, the leaders encounter a group of lapped runners resembling the rush hour at Grand Central Station. Clarke is coming on. The gap is closing. He is on Gamoudi's shoulder, but agonizingly can't gain more. Down the straight they come separated by only two feet. Can Gamoudi hang on and upset the world record holder?

As gallant as these two are, the point becomes mute for here comes Mills closing in sprinter fashion. It is a surreal moment. How can this be happening? A moment ago he had the bronze medal in his pocket. Now he blows by Gamoudi and hits the tape three yards ahead in 28:24.4, Olympic and American records. Gamoudi is timed in 28:24.8. Clarke, demoralized by Mills unbelievable finish, lets his momentum carry him through the finish a second behind Gamoudi. Wolde is fourth in 28:31.9. Better results would come his way in the next Olympics.

Lindgren battled through his injury and illness for a creditable ninth place in 29:20.6. Larrieu placed 24th in 30:42.6 but finished ahead of Bolotnikov and Bruce Kidd.
Mills said that he thought he would cry on the victory stand, “and I did”. So did his coach at Kansas, Bill Easton, who said, “It was the greatest thrill of my life.”
Previous to the race Mills hadn't been asked a single question by the press. He was our second string guy in a traditionally weak US event. Nothing to see here. Move along. Now he is mobbed. Reporters learn that he is 26, married, 7/16th Sioux, a Marine lieutenant, was orphaned at 12 and had taken up running to train for boxing.
Easton credits the Marine Corps for maturing him and giving him confidence. He adds, “I don't think Billy knows how great he could be”.
Cordner Nelson ends his report by saying, “Mills smashed the greatest field in history”. As for Mills, he says, “I guess I was the only one who thought I had a chance. I figured that if I stayed up there with the leaders, my speed would carry me in.” And later, “I am flabbergasted. I can hardly believe it.”

This writer heard Billy Mills speak about his race last August, 2013 in Cincinnati.  He said that passing the 5,000 meters at near personal best time, he was so shocked that he felt he wanted to step off the track and hide.  But because the Tokyo officials had kept interlopers from getting near the track and sidelines, there was nowhere to hide, so he kept on going.  That's when his confidence took a turn, and he started believing that he might be able to win.  In his speech he said he was lapping a German runner and saw an eagle on his uniform, and he had a vision of his father telling him that he, Billy, was like a wounded eagle as a child, hurt and angry, but someday he would learn to fly, and that day he did.  When he went to the German after the race to look again at the eagle on his uniform,  there was no eagle.  To Billy it had truly been a vision.  

For another story on this race, refer to our blog Vol. No. 69.
or click on the link below.


Tomorrow will be another day, though it will be hard pressed to match what we have seen today. There will be semis and the final in the 100. The discus qualifying will be in the morning and the final in the afternoon. The 20,000 meter walk final will be in the morning. There will be semifinals in the 800 and the 400 hurdles. The first round of the steeplechase and qualifying in the pole vault fill out the rest of the schedule. Get a good night's sleep because we will be starting early.

Orville Atkins sent this message:

Thank You for the Memories George.  That was my first day at an Olympics and I got to relive it with your Blog and my "Official Programmes".  At those games I wrote in splits as they were posted with the exception of day 5, a miserable cold and rainy day.
There were 43 entered in the 10,000 and 38 started.  There were runners left far behind by the first turn.  Billy Mills had number 36 and yet he had the confidence to run fast enough to join lead pack.  Kidd had 14 and Lidgren 24 and like usual they were very near the front during the first lap.  Then their conditioning caught up with them.  Clarke had position 25.
I wrote in my "programme" that "Mills, Clarke, Wolde, Temuran together all the way & cut the field to pieces".  Actually Gamoudi was with that lead pack too.
My memory is that at a Track and Field News banquet. Ron Clarke told us that he had been mistaken in not taking the pace out faster.  Then after the 5,000 he said the same thing.  He led most of that race.  As I said it was a miserable day.   The track was a mess by that last race.  I was sitting next to Bob Schul's Mother and Father on that 5th day and we were all shaking with cold.

Boy that was a long time ago!

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