Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

V 6 N. 6 Trail, British Columbia, a Gold Mine of Track and Field

According to Statistics Canada, Trail, British Columbia's  population was 7,320 during the Canada 2001 Census.  It is the site of the world's largest non ferrous lead and zinc smelter.  Sounds invigorating.  

You may think not much goes on in Trail, BC 10 Km north of the US border.  Well, they do produce their fair share of NHL hockey players as mentioned on Wikipedia.  There's no mention of track and field in that source, but here's a story about their track and field legends.

 We often find these  stories when we are not looking for them.  This one fits that classification.  In the preceding posting on this blog I was searching for a picture of Paul Pearson, a near four minute miler from Canada in the mid 1970s.    I typed in 'Paul Pearson Canada Track and Field' on google and found no photographic reference to Paul, but I did see the photo below and was intrigued by it, especially the guy in the sweater and bow tie. Plus the guy in the middle was holding what looked like a pair of track shoes.    I thought , "Is this Bill Nye, the Science Guy's father?"  So I clicked on the photo and up popped the answer.
The Haley Brothers Pat, Joe and Paul of Trail, British Columbia

No relation to Bill Nye, but two of the guys Pat and Joe Haley have a pretty decent track history.  Previously the only thing I knew about Trail, BC was it being the home of the  Trail Smoke Eaters hockey team that won the world hockey championship in 1961 when that championship was still played by amateurs.  In an old Chad Mitchell Trio album one of the singers Mike Kobluk mentioned that he was from Trail, home of the Smoke Eaters.  That was my only neurological connection to Trail.   So let me tell you about the Haley boys.

First let's mention Joe who is seen holding the track spikes in the picture. These were probably the spikes that legend says were home made  when lack of funding made those kinds of thriftiness part of one's daily routine.   In 1934, Joe competed for Canada  in the Empire games pulling in a silver in the high jump.  In 1936 he was the first Canadian Olympian to represent Trail, BC in the Olympic Games where he was in a ten way tie for 12th place at 1.85m.   He also competed in the '37 Empire Games (6th place) and once held the Canadian high jump record.

Grey haired Pat on the left was a first class sprinter although the 1940 Olympic games of Tokyo that were cancelled due to WWII would have been his chance for international fame.  He was a 9.5  100 yard sprinter running at Washington State.  Undefeated for two straight years in the Pacific Northwest.  Then in 1937 ,  with Pat, running for Canada's 4x110 yard relay at the Empire games he became  a gold medal winner, and his Canadian team set a World Record in gaining that victory.
Pat Haley

We found nothing about the third Haley brother  Paul on the right except we surmised he was the Beau Brummel of the family with a tremendous sweater collection and not shy about  wearing them in public.

As we'll see, a number of Trail, BC track boys drifted south to Pullman to compete for the Cougars.

Next on the Trail honor roll is Tony Tenisci
Tony Tenisci
Trail has a large Italian community and Tony proudly represents that heritage.   He  also starts raising the ante in Trail track and field.   In 1968, 69, and 70 he was Canadian Senior champion in the hammer throw.  In 1968 he also held the North American Junior record in the event as well as the world indoor record.   Frankly I never knew there was an indoor hammer record.

He too drifted down to the US and competed for Washington State and was an All American in 1969, 70, 71 and 73.  He participated in both the Commonwealth Games and Pan Am Games in 70 and 71.  He went on to establish the first women's team at Washington State as head coach from 1978 to 1983 and then moved on to the University of Pennsylvania where became  one of the top technical coaches in the US and has published numerous articles.  He is also the Director of Throwing Events at the Penn Relays.  His NCAA history is   1969  3rd  186-1,  1970 7th 188-7, 1971  8th 186-5, and 1973 7th  190-1.

Diane Gerace

Diane was a silver medallist for Canada in the HJ at the 1963 Pan Am Games.  She also held the BC records in the Shot Put, Long Jump, and High Jump and Pentathlon.  She was on the Canadian team at the 1964 Olympic Games finishing 5th in the High Jump with 1.71 m and 15th in the Pentathlon.

Don Bertoia

Next comes Don Bertoia who has a Pan Am gold medal in the 800 meters in Sao Paulo (1963) that was also a games record at the  time.  To boot he earned a bronze in the 1500.  In 1960 he won the Canadian indoor 800 and also represented Canada at the 64  Olympics in Tokyo.  In 1962 he picked  up a bronze at the NCAA's   competing for the Washington State Cougars  with a 1:48.5 timing.

Theresa Lenardon
Theresa Lenardon (Center)
In 1980, Theresa was Pan Am Games Heptathlon champion.

Gerry Moro

Gerry Morro at one time held the Canadian pole vaulting record.  Competed for Oregon.  He was a member of the Canadian Olympic teams in 1964 and 1972.  In 1965 Gerry placed third in the NCAA pole vault with a jump of 15' 8 1/2".

Garry Hill  

We're obviously saving the best for last.  Garry Hill's history with Trail is best said by the boys at the Trail  Hall of Honor.   Here is their write up.

"Like all good Trail kids,  Garry Hill had dreams of being a big sports star, but this 1965 graduate of J.L. Crowe (HS) never got any farther than being the BC juvenile boys record holder in the triple jump and earning a track and field scholarship to Washington State University.

In 1969 when it came time for him to graduate with a degree in Bacteriology and Public Health, he had a choice between running a sewage plant and moving to California and going to work for Track and Field News,  'the bible of the sport'. The choice was easy.

Garry started in the postion of Statistician and became one of the youngest members ever in the Association of Track and Field Statisticians, creating several innovations in the sports's record keeping which have been adopted worldwide.

In the 35+ years at the magazine, Garry moved through the ranks, eventually becoming editor and co-owner of the pubication for the last 18  years.  In conjunction with his work at the magazine, Garry has become one of the world's preeminent track and field public address announcers, working regularly for the IAAF, headquartered in Monaco.

Garry announced both the 1996 and 2004 Olympic Games in Atlanta and Athens, and also manned the microphone at World Championship competitions in seven different nations between 1991 and 2004.  Next year as a run-up to the 2008 Olympics, he will be announcing the World Junior Championships in Beijing.     This obviously could be updated. ed.  Not to worry, he got the 2012 Olympic  games as well..

Outside the realm of statistics, some of Garry's editorial work can be found at 
From the Editor TF&N
Since this blog was founded on the basis of summarizing old Track and Field News issues, we'd like to thank Garry for not suing us and shutting us down.   And once again I think you can see how often the stories just seem to write themselves.

So here's to the town of Trail, BC and their contributions to the sport of Track and Field.

For  more information on the town of Trail:

Trail Home of Champions

Trail BC Wikipedia


Loved the photo of Don Bertoia, my teammate at Washington State University in the early sixties.  I was very much in awe of him
when I turned out for the track team my freshman year.  He was a year or two ahead of me in school, and as they say, was the real deal.

Note the condition of the track surface we ran on in the those days.  
Immediately behind Don is the Student Union Building, where I spent a lot of time.  
In the background is the Library, where I should have spent that time.  

The track no longer exists in that location, nor do the stands behind Don, which were sadly empty at the time.
The track had a 220 straight-away that melded into the 440 oval at the homestretch, common for track facilities in those days.
The 220 yard dash and 220 yard hurdles could be run on the straight-away or the curve.

Brings back fond memories of good times long ago.


Jim Allen      

For those who don't recall, Jim Allen was the No. 2 ranked 400IH hurdler in the world in 1963.  Injury kept him off the 64 Olympic team.  ed.

Jim Allen interview

Garry Hill sent these additional bits of information about Trail, BC.

Few other tidbits.

Pat Haley (a mucky-muck at the local power company) hired me for summer work when I was in college.

Diane Gerace is the mother of former Laker/movie star Rick Fox.

Gerry Moro was Oregon’s first 16-footer (at a time when it meant something; believe it made the main front page of the Eugene Register-Guard)

The first ever NCAA Indoor pole vault champ (’65) was another Trail guy, Bob Yard of Washington State.

You mentioned lots of hockey people, but it should also note that Trail was also the home of the National League rookie of the year for ’04, Jason Bay.

When I was inducted into Trail’s Hall of Fame (for t&f journalism, not my physical skills!), also in the class was not only Bay, but also another rookie of the year (hockey). I was in tough company! 

Phil Scott adds:  Gerry Moro was also a great Decathlete and was Sam Adams UCSB assistant for many years. He now owns a Winery in Northern California. I talked him not long ago.

Monday, January 25, 2016

V 6 N. 5 Navigating The Currents of Time - Paul Pearson

Navigating The Currents of Time

By Paul O’Shea

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” concludes Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby.

Yogi Berra said it less lyrically. “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Whatever the formulation, the message from the Jazz Age novelist and the Yankee catcher is that for many, a presumed ending might also offer a rewarding new beginning.
Paul Pearson, The 70s Version

I met Paul Pearson at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.  As I learned about his running career and coaching one of the top cross country teams in Texas, I said I had been interested in writing about someone who loved competing beyond high school, beyond college, well into age-group years.  For whom there was always another workout, another race, whose finish line was over the hill.
 My hope was that we could encourage younger runners completing high school or college to pursue unfinished business. I found that Paul Pearson is a poster competitor for runners navigating the currents of time.
         Over some five decades he’s been a high school standout, Canadian national senior and junior champion, NCAA All-American, and this close to running a sub-four-minute mile.  He won handfuls of medals for a formidable collegiate team. Wearing Canadian colors in World Cross, the Pan Americans and World Cup, he raced some of the sport’s headline competitors, historic names like Jim Ryun, Marty Liquori and Steve Prefontaine.
Considerably older today, considerably slower for certain, Paul’s love for our sport, the kids he coaches, and the sixty-four-year-olds he competes against is unquenchable.
His story begins with disappointment.
After gaining attention with an easy win in the eighth grade gym class mile, Paul failed to make the high school freshman team. His Lakefield, Ontario school was known for its cross country squads, and drew large numbers of novice runners. 
While he didn’t merit a vest and run in invitational and championship races, a year later he caught fire, and by senior year he was the cross country team’s No. 1, province half mile champion, and a 4:24 miler. 
         Little known in a pre-Internet era, Paul was keen to run in college, but in warmer climates. After two years at the University of Waterloo, fed up with the weather and lack of competition he examined U.S. weather maps in the school library. Texas’s snow accumulations were enticing, and so he wrote to four Lone Star State schools.  One responded and he was offered a scholarship to Texas Western in El Paso beginning in 1971.  Several years earlier the school made basketball history when its all-black team (the university was then Texas Western) stunned the all-white, Adolph Rupp coached, University of Kentucky in the NCAA final. A year later it became the University of Texas at El Paso, UTEP.
.        Paul Pearson had an outstanding collegiate career, filled with high placings in major competition.  He was a member of the Miners team which finished second in the 1973 NCAA cross country meet. Running the third leg of the distance medley winner in the 1974 NCAA indoor, earning All American honors highlighted his UTEP career. He also ran a 3:42 1500 meters, which Track and Field News tables say converts precisely to a 4:00.0 mile. In later years he was inducted into the UTEP athletic hall of fame.
By this time Paul Pearson was a prominent figure in the Canadian running community, and picked for the team that competed in the 1978 World Cross in Scotland.  He also represented his country in the Pan American and World Cup meets. Though finishing second in the national trials, he missed qualifying for the 1972 Olympics in the 1500 by six-tenths of a second.
When he was 31, intrigued by the seductive, “What could I do if I ran a marathon?” he toured 26.2 miles in 2:20.  At forty Paul ran 4:06 in a master’s 1500.
         His notable achievements as a master’s competitor included a USATF 1500 championship and National Senior Games title at the same distance.
Paul Pearson , The Master

         Life wasn’t all intervals and hill work, however.  There was a professional career to pursue.  He received undergraduate and graduate degrees at UTEP  before the educational field provided a fine livelihood. Paul was first an English teacher, then a high school principal for eight years, while coaching the track and cross country teams.  Following retirement he was elected to El Paso’s Ysleta Independent School District board.

         Today the sixty-four-year old is a volunteer track and cross country coach at El Paso’s Eastwood High School, and a masters performer at the highest level.  The Troopers head coach is Mike McLain who ran for Pearson when Paul was head coach at Hanks High School in the mid-1980s. Their 2015 cross country team had one particularly impressive individual performance when for the first time, a Eastwood harrier ran in the NXN championship in Portland, Oregon.

Paul and Mike strongly believe that runners should compete beyond high school. How many times have you said goodbye to a runner at the end of the season, and said to yourself: “Michelle (or Mitch) ought to run in college, even though she said she won’t have time.  There’s talent that has yet to be fully developed, and she’ll miss out on the fun and the personal achievement that can be hers if she finds a running program, and a school that can develop her further.”

 Paul thinks you shouldn’t finish running until you’ve seen how good you can be.  “If you’re been a decent high school runner, and your times and performances don’t attract Division I interest, there are plenty of opportunities to get a good education and develop further at Division II and III colleges and universities.” 

“We both think that running is a lot of fun and teaches you lessons that enable you to be successful in life,” Pearson and McLain believe.  “Why not use that ability to go to college, extend your running life, have fun, and get a degree at the same time?” 

McLain says, “if running on a team gave you a great enough experience that you want to continue it in hope of finding that great team experience again, why not go for it?” 

Many Eastwood graduates run in college. Paul encourages them to “increase the volume and quality of their running to hopefully enable them to improve over time and reach their maximum performance level.” 

         “We really like it when they come home over the summer and Christmas, and train with the team,” McLain says.  “Even if they are doing different workouts than we are, it gives the college kids a place to run and people to run with, and they can mentor and talk to our kids about their experiences.”

“I feel many El Paso distance runners could improve enough to be college conference scorers if they were in a good program,” Paul points out.  “I’ve seen how far many developed in the four years of high school and believe the same could happen over four years of college.”

If you retrieve El Paso Times stories from the 1970s, you’ll see a heavily bearded and mustachioed Paul Pearson raising his arms in victory as he runs across a finish line in Miners’ gear.  Forty years on you’ll see him again in the Times, grayer, less hirsute, beaming after running and placing in the 2010 U.S. Masters championships.

Never over until it’s over?  Indeed.

Paul O’Shea is a long-time track and field and running world participant, as competitor, coach, journalist and traveler to national and international events.  After retirement from a career in corporate communications he began contributing to Cross Country Journal and Athletics, a Canadian track and field publication, and coaching a girls’ cross country team. He contributes to Once Upon A Time In The Vest from his home in northern Virginia, and can be reached at Poshea17@aol.com.

Note from Paul Pearson:  "...The older picture was 1975 taken in El Paso. At the time I was running for Toronto Striders. The newer one was taken a few years ago in Washington DC.  These days I usually run the USATF Masters Nationals and am lucky enough to get on the podium. The last couple of years I've run 5:20 for 1500m. Three years ago I ran 4:55 for 1500m...."

Saturday, January 23, 2016

V 6 N. 4 What the WADA Reports Mean to Me

     World Anti Doping Association (WADA) Reports #1 and #2

By now we've been able to look over in our irreverant, naive and  outsider looking in way and come up with a few thoughts about the WADA Independent Commission Reports #1 and  #2.  I should probably put a disclaimer on anything beyond this point as this is such a big story and probably still mostly untold at this time.  The IAAF meltdown rivals the old Enron and banking scandals in our little world of international track and field, the old  'too big to fail', yet it failed.   And it failed miserably.  It is a story of human frailties in the face of big time athletics and corporate involvement in a world that could throw seemingly endless streams of money around the heads and up the noses of IAAF leadership.   The existence of world bodies of anything political, religious, athletic, medical, judicial, humanitarian, agricultural, and military-industrial  provides us with an historical  litany of corruption, misrepresentation, connivance, deception, theft, and other words of disdain and disgust.  And yet we are willingly deceived into subscribing to these organizations of leadership and governance  and narcotised into a belief that they are able and willing to look after the best interests of our small spheres of interest.

 First, let's take a quick look at the task of the Independent Commission established by WADA.
Dick Pound, Richard McLaren, and Guenther Younger were assigned by   WADA as the IC with Pound as chairman. The IC's mandate was to investigate track and field in light  of  allegations made in December of 2014 by the German television network ARD about doping and cover ups of international track and field athletes in Russia.

Objectives of the IC

To establish breaches of processes or rules (Code of International Standards) by any signatory to the Code including the Russian National Anti Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the IAAF and other National Anti Doping Organizations and Federations.   The TV show specifically implicated the Russians. 

 Also included was any breach by International Standards for Laboratories (ISL)     by  any accredited laboratory including the one in Moscow.   Many countries have their own supposedly respecting the ISL.  Kenya may be one of the ones that does not or if they do, is strongly under suspicion.    Further mandate of the IC were breaches of rules by athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors, or entourages asssociated with athletes.  And to see if there is suffiicient evidence that might lead to sanction processes pursued under the World Anti Doping Code against any individual or organization.

Members of the IC were required to sign a confidentiality agreement upon appointment.  This makes me wonder how they could publish a report after doing their work, but apparently they can.

In the IC report #2 a few Russian athletes and coaches and doctors and labs were investigated and recommended for sanctioning from international competition.    The IAAF was also a subject of the IC's report.

At the top of the chopping block is the former four time elected president of the IAAF  Lamine Diack of Senegal.  How this gentleman was able to rise to such a position of power is not explained, and that too would make for good television drama.  Nevertheless Diack  came into power and saw a weakness in the organizational structure which enabled him to take advantage and enroll two of his sons Papa Massata Diack (PMD) and Khalil Diack (KD)  to work outside the chain of command as  consultants who handled the recruitment of cities to host various and sundry world championships and recruit corporate sponsors and in so doing rake in a series of favors  that would make Bernie Madoff weep. Not only that but these two lads were extremely enterprising in trying to extort money from athletes who had won Olympic medals but whose Athlete Biological Passports (ABP) had indicated an illegal pattern of doping.    I mean how could anyone sit on the board of any organization and not see such nepotism for what it was?  Had Diack been working out of an office in Dakar, I would think that he would  have just solicited bribes up front and treated them as cost of doing business.   But here in a European  organization of which he found himself the head honcho, he was able to ascertain that weakness in the organization as well as the gullability of Council and create that outside loop in which to insert Papa Massata and Khalil over whom no one had control , except Lamine, to loot would be sponsors for their 'services'.   "Sons, I think we just died and went to heaven."   We could suppose something like that was conveyed  over the Thanksgiving dinner table at the Diack household.  "Just don't put your saddle on the wrong horse."

But we should not  come down  hard soley  on the Diack homestead,  the report also mentions that Dr. Gabriel Dolle, the Medical Anti-Doping Department Head  of IAAF was also gathering a little bit of coinage to line his own pockets.   He could always look the other way regarding irregularities in Athete Biological Passports set up to detect blood changes over time for athletes competing at an international level.   Samples could get lost or misdirected.  Who are we  missing now  that we have the President and the Anti Doping Director  in our little web of deceit?  Oh yes, why the Treasurer, a Russian no less.  Add to this list a Presidential Legal Advisor, Habib Cisse, and you have a nice little circle of  interpersonal contact.   That defines the circle of 'interpersonal links' as WADA calls them.  That's all you need to usurp the whole organization if the rest of the IAAF Council is only a bunch of glad handers who don't give a shit as long as they get to fly around the world including  the groovy spots of Europe to be wined and dined and claim amnesia during their  years of service.  "Hey , let's not upset the apple cart here , Okay les amis? "

I'm sure the questions we as outsiders all want to know are yet to be answered.   One ,  how much did Seb Coe know?  Coe seems to get excused from  all this in the reports.   And Two, what athletes have been implicated including Kenyans and Ethiopians and Americans or for that matter  everybody?  We only get eleven names in Report #2.   In paragraph 10.5  WADA refers to an extortion by a high up individual in the Russian federation ARAF who demanded and received  300,000 euros to overlook a failed drug test of Lilya Shobukhova, marathoner extraordinaire.   It was also reported that under pressure of disclosure of this act of corruption , the money was paid back to Shobukhova through an organization called Black Tidings out of  Singapore.  I mean this is starting to look like a James Bond scenario.

Shobukhova, a former winner of the London and Chicago marathons, recently completed a doping ban that was cut from three years and two months to two years and seven months after Wada said she had provided assistance in its investigations.

The 37-year-old said a ban on Russian athletes would be punishing the innocent. “I don’t understand this recommendation from Wada,” she said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Sport Express. “What do the sportsmen have to do with this?   From the Guardian.
One might respond, 'We'll , you took the dope , Honey.   But what also came out in the IC investigation was that Russian athletes were told they would be booted out of the elite training programs if they refused to cooperate on taking PEDs.  
Who else  did the report(s) condemn?
All of the above and more.   I won't go into who else that includes, but you're wondering about athletes I'm sure.   It's just the Russians and a Turk, but what a Turk,  the women's 1500 meter gold medalist at London.

Paragraph 10.7 mentions a Turkish runner who got extorted.  We're talking Asli Alptekin nee Cakir who received 500,000 Euros for her 1500 win in London.   Problem was she had a nasty  ABP that the Liack boys got wind of through Gabriel Dolle.  Don't ask me why she wasn't sanctioned on the spot by the IOC.  Maybe the IOC doesn't have access to those drug tests or the mandate to do so.  Anyway the Liack boys Papa Massata and Khalil jumped on Alptekin in a hotel in Monaco like a mongoose on a cobra and suggested they could smooth things over for 650,000 Euros.   Their offer could be refused and was by  Alptekin, but the lads didn't take no for an answer.  They pursued Alptekin to Istanbul and Moscow, and finally took a 35,000 euro downpayment with balance due when the report would be dropped which never happened.  You can read all this starting on Page 31 in Report #2 below.  It's fascinating reading.

As to the Ruskkies, the following administrators, coaches, and athletes were recommended for sanctioning based on the IC's findings:
                 1. Dr. Sergey Nikolaevich  Chief of ARAF Medical Commission
                 2. Alexey Melnikov  Senior Coach and Head Coach for Russian Endurance
                 3. Vladmir Kazarin  Russian National Team 800 Coach
                 4. Viktor Chegin  Russian Race Walking Coach

Savinova, Kazarin, and Poistogva
IC recommendation Lifetime Ban
                 5. Ekaterina Poistogova   Middle Distance
                 6. Anastasiya Bazdyreva   400, 800
                 7. Mariya Savinova Farsonva  800
                 8. Kristina Ugarova   1500
                 9. Tatjana  Myazina  800

A number of others were investigated but there was insufficient evidence to recommend sanctioning.

For  more reading pleasure, and this is truly worth looking at, you can check out  independent testimony by a number of Russian athletes and coaches as to how they were involved in doping and covering their tracks (see  Report #2).   Report #1 is much longer but the chapters are well defined in the table of contents to lead you where you want to go.

WADA Independent Commission Report #1 Nov. 9, 2015

The more recent WADA report is seen at

WADA Independent Commission Report # 2

Since the general focus of our blog is more on the good old days, we will not dwell too deeply in this unseemly world of modern track and field.  However most of our readers' comments in this area reflect their general disgust with the way the world turns in these modern times.  We know that doping has been around for a long time going back to the early days of marathoning in the 1900s or even before.  But these days it seems to be pandemic, and it casts doubt on everyone  not only in our sport but in every sport.  GB

Thursday, January 21, 2016

V 6 N. 3 Beijing: From Running Shorts to The Big Underpants

This article was previously published in The Cross Country Journal
and used with permission from Paul O'Shea

Beijing: From Running Shorts to The Big Underpants
By Paul O’Shea

Edmonton. Paris. Helsinki. Berlin. Moscow. These are cities I’ve visited to attend track and field’s World Championships.  Now Beijing. I recently returned from a trip to China to see the 2015 Worlds, a nine-day feast of running, jumping and throwing by our sport’s finest athletes.  A few thoughts about the rich experience.     

The 6920-mile flight to the Chinese capital from Washington Dulles is long. Very long.  Flying non-stop to London or Paris from Virginia takes something like seven hours. Beijing insists on another seven hours of being squeezed into a Boeing 777 tube.  It’s like being incarcerated in a submarine, but without shore leave.  Seat comfort, even upgrading to Premium Economy ranks with Novocaine-free root canal.  But there were opportunities to meet-and-greet fellow voyagers.  Like on my August 17-18 excursion.

Mid-way through the flight I went to the middle of the plane to use the bathroom.  It was dark, and the small screens on the back of each seat provided movies and other entertainment transfixing my crewmates. As I walked back I noticed a group gathered near the facilities.  Dressed in tracksuits, they were tall and lean.  Aha, I thought: track athletes. I asked one if they were headed to the Worlds.  Yes, they were.  “What event are you running?”  “The 100-meter hurdles.”  I thought I must have heard incorrectly so I said, “you mean the 110-meter hurdles,” the men’s event. No, was the response. “I’m a female.”  Hers were the 100-meter hurdles.

Kierre Bickles

A few days later the lithe Barbados hurdler qualified for the semis, and though she didn’t make the finals, Kierre Beckles ran her round in 12.88 seconds, the fastest a woman had ever run wearing that nation’s colors. A national record. In the 100-meter hurdles.

The Theisen-Eatons
The World Championships drew participants from 205 countries and produced medalists from 43.  There was one World Record set, in the men’s decathlon. American Ashton Eaton received $80,000 for winning the event and a $100,000 bonus for breaking his own mark.Brianne Theisen-Eaton, Ashton’s wife finished second in the heptathlon, earning $60,000. It was a good payday for the Eatons.

Memorably, there was a now-29-year-old Usain Bolt, still a formidable sprinting force, but not quite the competitor who ran 100-meters in 9.58 seconds four years ago.   Measured in MPH that’s twenty-eight miles an hour. In Beijing, the electric Bolt won two events and anchored the winning relay for his Jamaica.  But not without causing instant anxiety in all the branches of the Bird’s Nest after winning the 200 meters.

While taking a victory lap, an out-of-control Segway electric scooter plowed into the icon and knocked him ass-over-teakettle. 
Usain and the Segway 
But not to worry, Bolt was unhurt and laughing about the mishap that could have ended the career of the Human Tesla.

I saw other memorable performances.  The second-longest men’s triple jump in history. The third fastest women’s 200 meters ever run.
Mo Farah
Aries Merritt
Another double-gold medal achievement by the seemingly invincible Brit, Mo Farah.   And an inspiring accomplishment from one U.S. athlete who had more on his mind than a mere championship meet.  Two days after the Worlds were over and after Aries Merritt won the bronze medal in the high hurdles, he was to undergo a kidney transplant, provided by his sister.  Early reports are that the surgery was successful, though there is a long recovery ahead for this inspiring athlete.

Joe Kovacs
One evening at the National Stadium, the Bird’s Nest’s formal name, an ample Joe Kovacs, who had won the men’s shot put for the US a day earlier, visited us in the stands.  I was able to retrieve my hand after shaking his, while he offered my colleagues a chance to see and feel the weight of his gold medal.  Beautifully designed and appropriately hefty for a six-foot, 276-pound athlete.

Attendance was strong, about six hundred thousand over the nine days.  Chinese athletes were wildly cheered—and successful.  The host nation’s men and women won 13 medals, placing them fourth behind the US (first with 18), Kenya and Jamaica.  In coming years, with a population of 1.9 billion China will become a much tougher competitor in track and field/athletics.  
The Bird's Nest
Inside the Nest
Seeing the Bird’s Nest for the first time, built to present the 2008 Olympics, the stadium looked like a bowl of linguine on the outside, cradling a catcher’s mitt.  

To get to the Bird’s Nest, about twenty-five minutes and $8US from the hotel, I often took cabs.  Looking out the window as we flowed by the shops and businesses along Ring Road No. 3, I collected some charmingly named businesses.  Translated into English I pondered Lucky Noodle and Beijing Changing Hospital.  And a promissory You Win Education. Worribank, on the other hand seemed to warrant greater scrutiny.  Had I remained in-country and needed dentistry services, I had my choice of the Enjoy Dental Clinic, or the perhaps ecclesiastically affiliated St. Anne Dental.
Big Underpants

Our hotel, China World, was located in the Central Business District in a forest of skyscrapers.  One nearby structure was known by the locals as The Big Underpants, the massive dark grey headquarters of China Central Television.  Consisting of two slanting 44-story towers joined by a section at the top to form a loop, the effect somehow lacked the elegance of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Meeting new people with a passionate interest in this sport continues to be another benefit from an affinity tour.  On this Track and Field News junket were an Iowa farmer and his wife who farm 850 acres in western Iowa.  A pharmacist confronting drug-abuse by her Florida customers.  A former Romanian national coach.  A retired high school principal who now sits on the El Paso board of education.  A former track and field coach who has toured in over one hundred countries.  And a 17-year-old San Francisco youngster ready to enter Stanford, on the Worlds’ trip with his “Grandpop” who has taken him to other major track meetings.

As part of our tour package we had a day of visiting Beijing sites, and a trip to The Great Wall.  Locally, we went to the Forbidden City.  Unfortunately, because of preparations for the September 3rd commemoration of the end of World War II, we were prevented from visiting Tiananmen Square.

Unrelated to the Worlds, I also met friends I had made in the United States.  As I am, they are members of Families Anonymous, a support group for parents who have children with substance abuse problems.  The husband-and-wife couple lives in Beijing on an assignment from a major foundation. Of Chinese heritage, Zumi prepared a lovely, authentic lunch at their apartment.

One of the frequent questions from people who knew of my trip:  How was the weather?  Translation: what about the smog, the daily miasma that envelops Beijing residents?  The answer for us was that cutting in half the number of cars allowed into the city, the imminence of the forthcoming mass demonstration of Chinese military might and an international track meet brought clear conditions, helping athletes and tourists alike. The atmosphere cleared for two weeks, recalling other rare days when looking up, residents saw what they called “Parade Blue” skies.

And that’s how I spent what could be called, My Summer Vacation.  Not in South China, Maine (pop. several hundred), but in the People’s Republic of China, Beijing (pop. 23 million).  

Friday, January 15, 2016

V 6 N. 2 Dave Sime R.I.P.

By now many of you probably already know that one of the legends of the late 1950s and early 1960s Dave Sime has passed away earlier this week on January 12, 2016.   He lived a truly fulfilled life, even though his Olympic goals may not have been met.   In 1956 he tore a groin muscle during the Olympic trials and failed to make the team though heavily favored to be on the podium at Melbourne. Bobby Morrow went on to be the king of the sprinters that Olympiad.   When 1960 came around  David Sime was back but running only the 100 meters.  He stayed off the curve event, the 200,  where he had been injured four years prior.  Qualifying in the 100 along side the slightly favored Ray Norton and the upstart  'thief of starts' Armin Hary of Germany,  Sime was outleaned at the wire by the Teutonic 'dieb'.    Another chance for vindication and an Olympic gold came in the 4x100.   Sime anchored the Americans and was a clear winner at the end, but joy turned sour when a red flag went up on Norton's exchange.
Drake Relays

That Olympics saw Sime recruited by the CIA to try to talk Igor Ter Ovanesyan the Russian long jumper into a high publicity defection, but it didn't come off.   Sime went home disappointed with his lone silver and settled into a life in the medical profession becoming a noted eye surgeon.   He was a star in baseball as well as football while at Duke University and passed on his talent to his daughter who was an outstanding athlete as well as her son Christian McAffrey, the Stanford running back who finished second in the Heisman polling this year.

Only two weeks ago we reported on David Sime's grandson on the link below.

Dave Sime

Thursday, January 7, 2016

V 6 N. 1 January 1966


This issue is the Track and Field News version of War and Peace, a remarkable 64 pages devoted to annual awards, lists, rankings and a smattering of indoor news, definitely a track fan's reading choice for the smallest room in the house. On the cover is the smiling visage of Ron Clarke, the 1965 Track and Field News Athlete of the Year.

Awards are divided between track events and field events. Clarke is the overall and track winner. Randy Matson is the field event athlete of the year. He is also the US athlete of the year. Billy Mills is the US track winner.

The European AoY is mile record holder Michael Jazy of France. Ludvik Danek, the world record holder in the discus, is the winner in the field division.
The US open category winner is long jump WR holder Ralph Boston. The track division goes to Billy Mills. The collegiate winner is Randy Matson with UCLA's distance star Bob Day taking the track division award.
T&FN has ranked the following as the world's top performer in his event. 100 – George Anderson, US; 200 – Adolph Plummer, US; 400
– Andrzej Badenski, Poland; 800 – Bill Crothers, Canada; 1500/mile – Jurgen May, East Germany; 3 miles/5000 – Michel Jazy, France

Mikhail Storozhenko by Alamy
; 6 miles/10,000 – Ron Clarke, Australia; Gaston Roelants, Belgium; 110 high hurdles – Willie Davenport, US; 400 hurdles – Roberto Frinolli, Italy; pole vault – John Pennel; long jump – Ralph Boston, US; triple jump – Jozef Schmidt, Poland; shot put – Randy Matson, US; discus
 – Ludvik Danek, Czechoslovakia; hammer – Gyula Zsivotsky, Hungary; javelin – Janis Lusis, Russia; decathlon – Mikhail Storozhenko, Russia.
And now for the news of the embryonic 1966 indoor season which ironically begins outdoors in 1965. On Dec. 30, Jim Ryun clocks a good 3:42.7 1500 meters on a rain soaked track in New Orleans' Sugar Bowl Classic. Nine days later the Orange Bowl Invitational is held in Miami where hurdler Willie Davenport, now a freshman at Southern University, rides an aiding wind to a 13.4 clocking. Southern and Grambling exchange wins in the sprints. Southern's George Anderson takes the 100 yards in 9.3 but is then falla to Grambling's Richard Stebbins in the 220, 20.5 to 20.9. Both races are wind legal.
With that behind us, the real indoor season begins with the San Francisco Examiner Games held in the venerable Cow Palace on January 8. John Pennel has vaulted three times since summer, all in meets because there are no vaulting facilities in his hometown of Coral Gables, Florida. Practice, schmactice, he vaults 16-7¼ to raise Billy Pemelton's indoor national record by an inch and a quarter.
John Lawson had a terrific undefeated cross country season. Can he bring that magic indoors in a two mile against a pair of Tracys, specifically Lindgren and Smith? Yes, he can. He follows Lindgren until a quarter remains, then goes to the afterburners to win easily, 8:40.2 to Lindgren's 8:42.8.
Lawson's younger Kansas teammate, Jim Ryun, is in attendance as well. He may not be ready for varsity competition as measured by the wearing of the “Kansas Frosh” vest. On the other hand, apparently he is good enough to go against three guys who have bests of at least 3:57.7, visiting Englishmen Alan Simpson and John Whetton, and Bob Day of UCLA. The youngster is not psychologically damaged by the experience. He allows Day to lead through a 58.2 quarter, then takes charge, passing the next quarters in 1:59.9 and 3:01.8. Enough is left in the tank to hold off Whetton, 4:02.1 to 4:02.5. Simpson, 4:03.6, and Day, 4:05.9, trail.
Wait, who is that big, grandfatherly looking guy over by the shot put ring? It looks like Parry O'Brien. Can't be. He retired last year after competing in only one meet. He's a banker. The only vest he wears now is in a three piece suit, but that guy picking up that iron ball sure looks like him.
Yes, it is and as the saying goes, there is no strength like old man strength. He pops the shot 62-3 to beat AAU champ John McGrath by four inches and leave those other kids, Dave Maggard and Neil Steinhauser, well back. Good to see you again, old timer.
Now it is Friday night, January 14 and we are in Detroit's Cobo Arena for the Motor City Games. Standing at the top of the runway, Norm Tate is a 25-9 (24-7¾ indoors) long jumper. By the time he hits the sand, he has moved to number eight on the all time indoor list with a leap of 26-3¾.
John Pennel clears 16-9¼, two inches better than his American record. That's the good news. The bad news is that his pole goes under the bar, negating the effort. Oh, well, maybe next week.
Southern University has a pretty good mile relay team. This night they combine splits between 49.7 and 48.4 to score a 3:16.0 win. If that time doesn't seem like much by today's standards, remember that they are running on a tight 160 yard track. Get three friends and try that before breakfast some time. Of course you would have to find a 160 yard track.
Now a day has passed and we are in Boston for the Knights of Columbus meet. John Whetton benefits from a slow pace to run 57.6 on his final quarter and win the mile in 4:06.6. Countryman Allan Simpson moves to the two mile where he follows Tom Laris before kicking to an 8:41.6 PR with Laris 1.6 seconds back. The crowd favorite though is the fifth place finisher, Art Dulong, who becomes the second high school kid to dip under nine minutes in 8:59.6.
January 22 finds us at the Los Angeles Invitational where two indoor records are broken and another one tied. One record is a surprise. Triple jumper Art Walker is eight days out of the army where there was no pit to train in. His first three jumps, two fouls and a mediocre 47-1¾, are testament to his lack of technique. But then, as if moved by the hand of God, he puts everything together on the fourth jump, an astonishing 53-8½ bettering the world record of Olyeg Fyedoseyev of the Soviet Union by 2¾ inches. A foul and a pass and he is done. Get some training in, Art, and you might be pretty good at this.
The breaking of the other record is as predictable as Walker's was shocking. John Pennel gets the pole vault record. His 16-9½ betters Pentti Nikula's 16-8¾. For this achievement Pennel is voted the outstanding performer award and takes home a portable TV.
The third record isn't much of a surprise either. Nebraska's Charlie Greene catches Darryl Newman in the 60 and pulls away for a yard victory in 5.9. Can 5.8 be far behind?
The crowd of 13,419 has seen three world records, yet what most of them will be talking about the next day is the performance of Kip Keino. The personable Kenyan is determined to give the fans their money's worth. A rabbit leads the first quarter in 59.8 at which point Keino takes over, splitting 1:58.5 and 2:59.8 with Jim Grelle ten yards back. Grelle closes to Keino's shoulder as the gun sounds for the last lap. Off the final turn Grelle's speed is too much for Keino and the former Oregon star wins easily, 4:00.9 to 4:01.8.
So why is the crowd buzzing about the great Kenyan when they leave the Sports Arena? Apparently Kip's momma preached the adage, “If at first you don't succeed, try and try again”, because 90 minutes later, a smiling Keino, wearing his orange cap, is standing at the starting line of the two mile, ready to take on John Lawson, Tracy Smith and Gaston Roelants.

A brief clip of this meet including the mile and two mile as well as the 60 yards won by Charlie Greene followed by the elusive Darrel Newman can be seen on Getty Images at the following site.
L. A. Invitatio


Also a link to May, 1965   Ebony magazine article on Keino and pictures from the L. A. Invitational and his first visit to the States
Keino, Ebony May, 1965

Keino leads for the first eight laps before Lawson, Smith and Roelants take turns at the front. With Roelants leading with a 440 to go, Lawson takes the lead. Two weeks ago he had used similar tactics to leave Gerry Lindgren in the dust. Worked then, should work now. Maybe not. Roelants drops away but the only dropping Keino is doing is that of his cap, his classic indication of a big finish. Lawson's five yard margin disappears. On the backstretch Keino goes by and Lawson has no answer. Keino 8:42.6, Lawson 8:43.0, Roelants 8:47.6 and Smith 8:50.0. Keino has run the fastest indoor mile – two mile double in history. No mention of who picked up the cap.

V 11 N. 3 "Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher, a Book Review by Paul O'Shea

When we come across books to review, we know that there is a particular skill set needed to be fair and honest and at the same time literary...