Thursday, February 1, 2018

V 8 N. 5 Commonwealth vs. USA Los Angeles 1967


    Before we report on the following meets, we need to run through the schedule. As mentioned in our last report, the big meet is the US vs. the British Commonwealth held July 8-9 in Los Angeles. The following weekend, July 15-16 is taken up with the Pan Am Trials in Minneapolis.
    Everyone gets to take a deep breath before the frenzy starts again with the Pan American Games in Winnipeg July 29 – August 5

Geographers will note that Minneapolis is just south of Winnipeg, (624.31 Km) literally a stone's throw if you're crossing the Canadian-American midwest. ed. 

  Since we already have a team in Canada, the Americas vs. Europe meet, Aug 9-10 in Montreal is convenient.  That one is 1810.12 Km away.  The Southern Pacific AAU decathlon is held Aug 11-12, the same weekend as the US vs. Great Britain, an oddly scheduled one day meet in London on the 12th. The European tour continues Aug. 16-17with the US in Dusseldorf taking on West Germany and finishes Aug. 19-20 in Viareggio, Italy with a double dual against Italy and Spain.
    Got your Greyhound tickets in one hand and your passport in the other? Good, off we go.

    The Commonwealth meet, held in the Coliseum, is run both days with the best events crowded together in the heat of the day to accommodate television.

The 1500  to see some footage of the race,  clik here

    Obviously the event most viewers have anticipated is Saturday's 1500 which pits Kip Keino against Jim Ryun in an attempt to break Herb Elliot's seven year old world record of 3:35.6.
    The prospect of a record fades in the first half lap as the pace dawdles and Ryun and Kip are near the back of the pack. Dave Bailey to the rescue. The Canadian spurts into the lead and quickens the pace. Keino and Ryun follow. The 440 passes in 60.9. At this point Keino saves the record chances. He takes over and cranks out the fastest second lap in ever, 56.0. Ryun goes with him and passes 880 in 1:57.0.
    Keino, realizing that his best chance is to take the kick out of Ryun's last lap, continues to push the pace courageously. At the gun, Ryun is on Keino's heels at 2:39.2. Ryun moves along side at the 1320, reached in 2:55.0. In the post race interview he states that at this point “I knew I could get the record because I was feeling strong, especially in the legs”.
    Strong is insufficient. Superhuman might be more like it. Any doubt about the outcome is immediately erased. The 20 year old Kansan leaves the great Kenyan behind, gaining a yard in every ten run. The next 220 goes off in 25.6. He slows ever so slightly on the run in but only those spoilsports with stopwatches can tell.
    Did we say “breaks” the record? Let's make that “destroys” the record. His 3:33.1 is not only a new record, it's the greatest middle distance race of all time. Although Keino is thoroughly trounced, his 3:37.2 is the fifth fastest 1500 meters ever run.
    Ryun's dominance can better be explained in his final 1320 and 1000 meter times. His last three laps go off in 2:48.7 and his final 1000 meters are the same as Wade Bell's American record of 2:18.7. Take the rest of the afternoon off Jim.

Editor's Note:   Our next issue will be a personal account of the 1500 race from David Bailey who led the first lap and managed to hang on for a Canadian 1500 record.  

    Keino gets no rest. He is back Sunday for the feature race of the day, the 5000, where he will take on world-record record holder Ron Clarke and US champion Gerry Lindgren. Any thought of a record had been squelched by the heat. Also in this equation are the facts that Keino has just run a hard race yesterday, Lindgren's feet are badly blistered and Clarke was injured so badly that he had officially withdrawn only to reconsider and give it a go. What was Clarke's injury you may ask. It seems that two days before, while demonstrating his steeplechase form to Ryun, he pulled a groin muscle while hurdling a trash can. Others in the race are England's Dick Taylor and Lou Scott and Bob Day of the US.
Lindgren leads Clarke, Day, Taylor, Scott, and Keino early on.
    The race itself is predictable. Lindgren leads through a 4:23 mile and a 6:40 mile and a half. Taylor takes over and brings the pack through two miles in 8:52. With three laps left, Clarke takes the lead, but Keino is right there. Lindgren passes Taylor for third, but they are soon 35 yards behind.  
    On the final lap, Keino does to Clarke what Ryun did to him yesterday. He strikes on the backstretch. He is six yards up at three miles in 13:12.6 and stretches his advantage to 20 yards, finishing in 13:36.8. Clarke runs 13:40.0, Lindgren 13:47.8 and Taylor 13:52.0. Scott is well back. Day drops out with an unexplained injury.
    Toeing the line in the 800 for the US are Wade Bell, Dennis Carr and Larry Kelly, the trio that finished 1-2-3 in both the NCAA and AAU meets. The Brits et al are Kenya's Olympic bronze medalist, Wilson Kiprugut, Commonwealth champ Noel Clough of Australia and England's 1:46.3 man, Chris Carter.
    Kelly takes the group through the 400 in 51.8 with Clough, Kiprugut and Bell in close attendance. In his last two races Bell has spurted in the middle of the backstretch but this time he doesn't wait. He puts the pedal to the metal as they start the backstretch. He moves past Kiprugut and opens ground around the curve. In summation, he says “ I knew I was moving too soon, but I was accelerating so fast that I was afraid not to keep going.” Kiprugut is caught by surprise. He rallies in the stretch, gaining three yards, but Bell holds on to win in 1:45.0, the fourth fastest ever. Kiprugut's 1:45.2 is sixth fastest. Carr once again waits for the straight and then gains on everyone, finishing third in 1:46.3, to become the fifth fastest American. Kelly, Carter and Clough finish in 1:47.3, 1:47.5 an 1:47.6.
    Bell's spurt may have looked as if he had picked up speed, but in the 800, like everything else in life, appearances are deceiving. His splits are remarkably even – 26.1, 26.3, 26.2 and 26.4.
    No matter how it is viewed, the 100 is a disappointment. Willie Turner and Jim Hines are disqualified for false starts. At 80 yards, Lennox Miller leads Charlie Greene by inches but pulls away to win convincingly in 10.1 as Greene runs out of gas. In his defense it must be said that Greene is in the army at Fort Lewis, Washington and hasn't trained in two weeks.
    The same can be said of Tommie Smith who is stationed across the street from Greene. The army hasn't taken his Tommie-Jet gear however. In the 200 he enters the straight three yards behind Hines but comes on strong to nip him at the tape, 20.2 to 20.3. Cordner Nelson writes, “John Carlos, a tall 22 year old freshman at East Texas State, looked like an Olympic prospect. He led Smith into the straight and then gained on Hines”. Carlos was close at 20.4.
John Carlos
    With two rounds left in the triple jump, Charlie Craig is in first at 53-1. Then Samuel Igun of Nigeria pops 53-2½ to take the lead. Now we are down to the last jumper in the final round, American record holder, Art Walker. Unfortunately for Samuel and the Commonwealth, Art breaks the sand 53-7 from the board for the win.
Samuel Igun

    Three days before the meet Lee Evans tells coach Jim Bush that he is going for the 400 world record. In the meantime he has come down with the mother of all chest colds. A world record attempt becomes “try to win” and then “show up and do my best”. Vince Matthews has come on strongly of late and would be a challenge for Evans even if he were healthy. Matthews goes out hard and, just as he did in the AAU meet, carries an eight yard lead into the straight. Evans closes, but will he be strong enough to catch Matthews? The answer is.....we will never know. Matthews, on the cusp of victory mistakes the finish line and eases up. (Vince, look for the string across the track.) Evans wins 45.3 to 45.6. Canada's Don Domansky is third in 45.8.

Ron Whitney

Willie Davenport
    After trailing the field in the 400 hurdles, Ron Whitney electrifies the crowd by moving to fourth at the eighth hurdle, catching leader Gary Knoke of Australia at the ninth and running away from the field for a convincing 49.3 victory to move to fifth on the all time list. This is one of the strongest fields ever as Russ Rogers is second in 50.0 followed by Roger Johnson of New Zealand, Andy Bell of the US and Knoke, all 50.2. Tony Pickett in sixth finishes in a credible 50.6.

    The high hurdles race is the closest of the day and it is all US. Earl McCullough leads early but Willie Davenport catches him only to be passed by Richmond Flowers at the sixth hurdle. Davenport rallies to nip Flowers at 13.6 for both with McCullough third at 13.7.

Naftali Temu

    Naftali Temu ran 28:29 for 10,000 last week in Helsinki. Considering the heat, this day's 29:01.8 might be superior. The outcome is decided when he runs a 4:25 third mile to open up a 160 yard gap. Van Nelson watches Temu break the tape. Unfortunately he does so by looking left, across the track, before finishing in 29:36. Ron Hill out-sprints Tom Laris for third, 29:55.0 to 30:00.6.
    It is a measure of how far we have come in the last half century when we examine Temu's background. The young Kenyan “thinks” he is 22.
    The following quote reflects the chauvinism of the timeCordner Nelson writes, “Another Kenyan, Benjamin Kogo, won the steeplechase, bringing their record to three firsts and two seconds in the five longest races, a remarkable achievement for an undeveloped nation only 50 percent larger than California with one-third of California's population.” Just imagine how much better those Kenyan kids would be if they had the advantages of the western world. If only their moms drove them to and from school and they could spend evenings watching the Flintstones and the Beverly Hillbillies while feasting on Big Macs and fries.
    On the fourth lap Kogo breaks away and wins by 30 yards in 8:39.8. Conrad Nightengale becomes the first American to defeat Pat Traynor in 13 months as they finish second and third in 8:44.2 and 8:46.8.
    The long jump matching Olympic champions Lynn Davies and Ralph Boston is diminished by adverse wind conditions. Boston jumps 27-0¾ twice to win. Davies handicaps himself with four fouls and has to settle for fourth at 26-1¾, ¾ of an inch behind Bob Beamon. The surprise is Aussie Alan Crawley who comes into the meet with a PR of 25-10 and leaves with 26-6 credentials and second place.    
Allen Crawley  (he would go on to place 6th the following year in Mexico City)
    The discus lead exchanges hands from Australia's George Puce to Rink Babka to Jay Silvester then back to Puce, before becoming the Rink Babka Show as the big guy's last four throws are better than anyone else's. His 203-1 wins by nine feet over Sylvester.
George Puce
    Those of us who paid $5.00 to watch the best athletes in the world perform expect a world record in every event every time. Given that rational, the shot put and the pole vault are disappointing.
    Randy Matson can muster “only” 67-1½. He apologetically summarizes, “I can't explain it. I felt good all week”. Dave Maggard has no need to apologize. His 64-1¾ PR, leaves Neil Steinhauer in third at 63-5.  
Dave Maggard
    In addition to not being very good at throwing heavy stuff, the Brits and cohorts apparently lack the vaulting gene. Two fail to clear a height, the other manages only 14-5. This leaves the US guys to demonstrate their own level of misfortune. Dick Railsback fails at 16-1 and has to settle for 15-5. Former world-record holder Bob Seagren clears 16-1, but no higher. Though current WR holder Paul Wilson clears 17-5, he “fails” in his attempt to set a new record of 17-9. Okay, we had the world record yesterday, but what about today? I paid good money for this ticket. The line requesting refunds must be around the building.

    Delmon McNab leads a javelin sweep with a 269-3 PR and Ed Burke tosses the hammer 225-0 to win by 20 feet.

    Ed Caruthers' decision to pass at 6-6¾ and 6-11 allows him to win the high jump when he and Laurie Peckham each clear 7-1¼ on their second attempt.
    Apparently the Commonwealth is lacking in the decathlon department, as West Germany has been invited to provide the opposition. What appears to be a slam bang competition would have been better held on the front lawn of Good Samaritan Hospital. Kurt Bendlin, a recent world-record, arrives with a pulled hamstring. Russ Hodge tears a tendon in his knee. Neither finishes. Bill Toomey injures a calf muscle in the 100 meters but soldiers through to finish second, 200 points off Hans-Joacham Walde's 7992 PR. Third goes to Horst Beyer with 7712 points.
    The Commonwealth relay teams display the stiff upper lip for which the Brits are noted. Neither has a chance against the Americans, a fact which apparently has gone unnoticed on the visitors' side. In the 4x1, Earl McCullough, Jerry Bright and Ron Copeland open up four yards at the final pass but Lennox Miller, running on his home track, is having none of it. Running against Jim Hines, he gains all but five feet of it back as the Brits finish a tenth back in 39.1, a time bettered by only two US national teams and USC.
    Vince Matthews opens the 4x4 with a 44.9 split, the fastest opening leg ever recorded and a four yard lead over Clifton Forbes' 45.8 (At this point allow us some editorial comment. Nine tenths of a second is a lot more than four yards.) Jim Kemp splits 45.5 to increase the lead to eight yards over Daniel Rudisha who is clocked in 45.4. 

(Cordner Nelson has had a long hot day in the press box, but we hesitantly and somewhat belatedly question how someone running faster than the competition can lose ground. This is the sort of inside stuff our readers expect and deserve.)
Domansky almost catching Evans
    How many times does the world-record holder in his event run the slowest split in a relay? Tommie Smith may provide the only example. His army commitment and consequent lack of training produce a 46.2 clocking as Australia's Gary Eddy runs 45.8 to cut the lead in half. Not to worry, we have Lee Evans on the anchor leg. Nobody can catch him, a truth rejected by Canada's Don Domansky. Evans runs 45.0 but Domansky gains in the stretch to split 44.7 and bring the Commonweath home only a tenth behind in 3:01.7, a time surpassed by only two US teams.
    We can only assume that the field is awash in sweaty men hugging each other and everyone going off to the pub for a pint or six.
    Our next report will be on the US Pan Amercian Games trials – spoiler alert: world-record tying performance – and the Pan Am Games themselves.
Folks are still trying to sell their tickest to this meet on Ebay

A bit of marketing history.  Back in 1967 Ralph Lauren was flogging  tee shirts such
as this one as well as sponsoring track meets.

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