Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Saturday, March 28, 2020

V 10 N. 25 Boo Morcom, Track Iconoclast

The idea of this posting comes from a book that has been sitting in my library for at least five years.  I never cracked it until Covid 19 put us  into the situation of closed libraries and bookstores these past two weeks. It is a compendium of articles written by the sportswriter  Ira Berkow,  Beyond the Dream, Occasional Heroes of Sports,  Atheneum, NY, 1975.  I’m glad I picked it up on a whim those many days past, as I’ve discovered Berkow’s gift of saying a lot in a few paragraphs . I will probably use some of his stories in postings of the future.  Today our ‘occasional hero’ is Boo Morcom.  Ring a bell?  His name did not ring any bells for me, but he has a great track and field pedigree.  He was for 35 years the coach at U. of Pennsylvania, then went back to his alma mater at U. of New Hampshire to finish out his coaching career.  He was one of the best pole vaulters in the world from the early 1940’s until 1948 when heavily favored at the London Olympics he could only manage a sixth place.   That was one of the only disappointments in his long career.  He was also in the 101st Airborne Division in WWII, which may have put him into Normandy.  He was called back up for the Korean conflict as well, but got sent elsewhere.  Not much is out there on his military achievements.  He also went on to Masters competition when Masters events were not yet popular and held many world and American records as he progressed through the age groups.  He had talent in many events from PV to Triple Jump, High Jump and Throwing events.  He had the first  pole vault over 14 feet set  above the Arctic Circle, which is a story in itself.  The more I looked into this colorful character and the other two American vaulters at London, the more I learned.   Third place, Bob Richards was the better known for his later wins in 1952 and 1956, but the winner that year was Quinn Smith, also a very interesting character.  At the end of this piece on Morcom, I’ve included bios of Smith and Richards, and Morcom, but this is mainly about Morcom.  I also give some samples of Berkow’s writing with liberal quotes from his three-page article.
Boo Morcom

Boo Morcom at Earth’s End  pp.98-100.
                September, 1975 
                What Richmond “Boo” Morcom did when he finished sixth after being the favorite in the pole vault in the 1948 Olympics was not to crawl deep in to the sawdust pit as he first wanted.  Since he was too embarrassed to return home to New Hampshire, he arranged his own post-Olympic tour, visited each foreign athlete who had beaten him (all Scandanavians ed.), challenged him man to man and topped him.  
                In the process, he became the first man to vault over 14 feet above the Arctic Circle when, wearing two pairs of long johns, he beat the silver-medal-winning Finn.  And Boo overcame a problem in Norway when his man was in jail awaiting trial on a drunk-and-disorderly charge.  Boo dug into his own pocket, bailed the competitor out, whipped him, and then left for Sweden to knock off the next guy.
Morcom and his college coach Paul Sweet and Sweet's son

                After Morcom came home, he continued competing in events as he aged, also competing in the first world masters competitions in Munich in 1972 just after the Olympics and winning the pole vault in his age group.  At the age of 50 he vaulted 13’ 8”  and had other WR’s of 38’ 10” in the Triple Jump, 5’8” I the High Jump and later set WR’s in the Decathlon and 400IH.  His athletes at Penn said that he was so dedicated to competing, that even at practices they found themselves competing with him.  They went to the trouble of devising events such as the two handed shot put to try to be on a par with him.  He was not a big guy, only 5’8” and 148 pounds.    His thoughts on coaching included this philosophy,  “ I always felt I was perfecting myself when trying to beat somebody.” 

                Berkow continues,  

                He remembers when he was in college at the University of New Hampshire and he would bet his teammates that he could vault well despite obstacles such as a wheelbarrow placed in the runway (he jumped over it) or 60 chairs put in the runway.  (He came in at a 45 degree angle)) or that he could jump 14 feet (almost an Olympic record in that day) without a warm-up (he would run out from the locker room, be handed a pole and vault).  Once he was handed two poles  tied together and made that one, too, and refused to acknowledge the trick in order to shake up his fellow bettors.
“I was shattered when I came in sixth in the Olympics on a wet, windy day and with a bad knee.  I got the idea of going into the backyards of the guys who beat me and beating them.  It was evil pride combined with a grand passion.  Two Americans were first and third, but they knew they were lucky that day and besides  I had beaten them many times before, so nothing to prove there.”

                After beating the Norwegian, the Swede, and the Finn,  Boo was invited to the house of the Finn, Erkki Kataja, after the Arctic Circle triumph.

                “By this time , says Boo, “everybody in Europe was calling me the world’s champ.   I went to this kid’s house and met his grandmother.  She went to the cupboard and brought out his Olympic silver medial.   She asked to see my Olympic medal.  She didn’t realize I didn’t have one.  That really put me in my place.  I  laughed.  It showed what kind of bastard I was.  But it was beautiful.  I could beat him but I couldn’t beat that.”


The following, if you care to read on are from several sources  Quinn Smith’s obituary and Wikipedia on Morcom and Bob Richards.

 Owen Guinn Smith receiving the Olympic Gold Medal for the Pole Vault in London 1948 representing the USA and competing for the Olympic Club of San Francisco.
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Owen Guinn Smith of San Francisco, a World War II pilot and former investment counselor who won a gold medal for pole vaulting in the 1948 Summer Olympics, has died at the age of 83.
"He was very tough," said his son, Stephen Whitlock Smith, a retired Army physician from Tacoma, Wash.
Guinn Smith lived on Russian Hill in San Francisco for more than three decades, was born in McKinney, Texas, but moved to Pasadena with his family as a child. He went to Pasadena High and graduated from UC Berkeley as a history major in 1942.

With World War II in full swing, he became a pilot in the Army Air Corps, flying "the hump" over the Himalayas and participating in the Allies' campaigns in Burma and on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Later, during the Korean War, he was recalled as an Air Force pilot and stationed in England.

He snagged his Olympic gold on a horribly windy and rainy London day. Mr. Smith was plagued with knee problems, resulting partly from a wartime injury when his plane was shot down. His first two attempts failed. For the third try, his son said, he switched to a bamboo pole sent to him by a Japanese pole vaulter he'd met after the war -- who couldn't compete in the games because athletes from Japan and Germany were barred.

"That's what it took to win," Stephen Smith said. "The Japanese person was very glad."
The winning vault was 14 feet, 1 1/4 inches, nowhere near Mr. Smith's personal best and far below today's records, achieved with fiberglass poles that didn't exist then. But it was enough, especially for someone who'd started out as a high jumper.

"He wanted to go to UC Berkeley, and they already had good high jumpers," Stephen Smith said. "But they didn't have any good pole vaulters at the time, so he took it up to give himself a competitive edge."

At Berkeley, Mr. Smith was captain of the 1940-41 track and field team.
Stephen Smith said his father's Olympic medal was displayed in the family's home, in a case on the wall, and was always available to his brother and him.

"We played with it," he said. "And in grade school, I'd bring my friends over to look at it."
He described his father as "a very private person but very charming when he wanted to be, someone who was totally in charge."

The career path Mr. Smith followed as an adult was varied and eclectic. He first worked at his alma mater in Berkeley and then became assistant dean at the Harvard Business School. After that, he moved on to a job as an investment counselor in Boston. Stephen Smith said his parents didn't like "the cold or taxes or corruption of Massachusetts" and missed the Bay Area greatly. So, amid the social ferment of the late 1960s, the "very conservative" ex-pilot and his wife, the late Nancy Jane Whitlock, returned to San Francisco and never left again. Mr. Smith worked here as administrator of the San Francisco branch of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic.
He died Tuesday at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco after a lengthy bout with emphysema.

"I did try to move him at different times to Tacoma," his son said. "But he would not leave San Francisco. He wanted to be within sight of the Campanile and the Berkeley hills and the Golden Gate Bridge. He was very much grounded in this city."

His Hyde Street apartment afforded views of all these places. In his latter years, Mr. Smith was fond of taking daily walks along the San Francisco Marina and visiting the Cliff House and Sutro Heights. He also enjoyed crossword puzzles and became adept at using his Macintosh computer.
Mr. Smith, who kept a power boat at the Berkeley Marina, belonged to the St. Francis Yacht Club, the Olympic Club and the Berkeley Masonic Lodge.

Albert Richmond "Boo" Morcom (May 1, 1921  - October 3, 2012)[1] was an American track and field athlete.
Early career
He was born in Braintree, Massachusetts. While he is primarily known for his exploits in the pole vault event, he has demonstrated versatility in other events including long jump and high jump. He set several records at Braintree High School.
At the age of 19 he was the best pole vaulter in the state of Massachusetts. He became known as "the Barefoot Boy" for his habit of high jumping with one shoe on and one shoe off. Then when he matriculated to the University of New Hampshire under coach Paul Sweet, the Boston newspaper sport pages would refer to him as "One Shoe Boo". His fame spread as he pole vaulted on an athletic tour of Canada with three other athletes including Babe Ruth.[2] In 1940 he took his athletic skills to the University of New Hampshire, where his record in the long jump lasted for 67 years.[3]
His studies were interrupted by World War II. Before departing for the conflict, he won the 1942 United States National Championships in the pole vault.[4] He finished in second place in the high jump.[5] He returned to UNH to become the 1947 NCAA pole vault champion.[6]
In 1950, he was recalled to the Army's 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" as an officer and Jumpmaster for the Korean War.[7]
Morcom competed in the pole vault at the 1948 Summer Olympics for the United States,[8] finishing in 6th place after passing at lesser heights, then during a rainstorm, missing at the height the eventual winners would clear of 4.20 meters.[9] [10] A week later he beat the winning height by 6 inches.[2] In 1949 he won his third United States national championship.[4]
He graduated with a degree in biology and went on to coach Track and Field at the University of Pennsylvania for 35 years before returning to coach in New Hampshire. He started one of the first high school track teams for girls in 1954 and opened the Penn athletic facilities to poor minority high school students.[2] In 1956, he was the coach of the USA Women's Olympic Track Team.
Morcom continued to compete in athletics as he advanced in age, competing in college meets through his 40s. As an early pioneer of masters athletics, he held the world record for the pole vault as he passed through each of the age divisions between age 50 and 70, plus world records in the high jumplong jumpdecathlon, and pentathlon.[11] [12] He continued to vault past age 75, still ranked number one.[13]
Due to the advent of fiberglass vaulting poles, his world record in the M55 division was higher than his best vault in the Olympics almost three decades earlier.
He became well known for these activities, encountering, by his recollection, Jesse Owens, Wilt Chamberlain, and Jackie Robinson. He appeared on The Bob Hope Show.[2] He was inducted into the USATF Masters Hall of Fame in 1997.[14] He is also in the Braintree High School Athletic Hall of Fame, the UNH Athletic Hall of Fame, the Pole Vault Hall of Fame, the Massachusetts Track Coaches Hall of Fame, and as a coach in the Women's Track and Field Hall of Fame.
In 1987, at the age of 66, he was still able to jump 12'6" in the pole vault, as high as any high school athlete in the state of New Hampshire.[15] He was awarded the New Hampshire Male Athlete of the Year Trophy.

Bob Richards was the second man to vault 15 feet and, like the first man over this height, Cornelius "Dutch" Warmerdam, he dominated the event for a number of years. Richards is the only man in history to win two Olympic gold medals in the pole vault, and these came after an Olympic bronze in 1948. Unlike many champions in this event, he was not an outstanding collegiate athlete, and while at Illinois, his best placing at the NCAA meet came in 1947 when he was in a six-way tie for first. However, he went on to win the AAU title a record nine times and won eight AAU indoor crowns. He was also Pan American Games champion in 1951 and 1955. Richards was also a top decathlete, winning the AAU title three times and the All-Around Championship once. In the 1955 Pan American Games decathlon he won the silver medal. In 1956 he made the Olympic team in the decathlon but, hampered by an injury, did not finsh. Richards later became a familiar face on TV. He did sports commentary and was a commercial spokesman for Wheaties. He formed his own company that specializes in motivational speaking and film producing. The Reverend Robert Richards, known as the "Vaulting Vicar", lost his family record of 15-6 (4.72) in the pole vault when his son, Bob, Jr., cleared 17-6 (5.33) in 1973.
Personal Bests: HJ – 6-3¼ (1.91) (1954); PV – 4.72i (1957); LJ – 23-3¼ (7.09) (1954); Dec – 7381 (1954).

Friday, March 27, 2020

V 10 N. 24 A Letter from an Impassioned Track Fan

Geoff Williams on the right with George Brose and John Cobley

Geoff Williams, a colleague and friend in Victoria, BC, sent me the following letter this morning.
I think it more than sums up many of our feelings about all that is going on and how it has affected our sport.  Interstingly Geoff had to write this statement a second time, because his first letter got 'lost in cyberspace'.   As I'm sure you are aware, that is not an easy thing to do, to re-create your sentiments and feelings a second time in a row.  I read once that Ernest Hemingway's first wife in packing their household for a move in Paris, lost his manuscript to a novel.  It was never found and understandably never re-created.  It may also have been the tipping point to ending that relationship. Geoff, I'm not implying that is the case here.  I just want people to look through the contents of all the boxes they see at an estate sale.  That unpublished Hemingway novel may still by lying around somewhere.  Here is Geoff's second go at a worthy subject.

I am sorry I made a mess of trying to send a comment on the Olympics cancellation thing.  I felt quite impassioned by the whole affair and so will try to give it another shot by straight email.  At my age I cannot even remember my own name, so I may miss some points.  If you think it worth while you are welcome to share it with our wider audience.
”The news about the cancellation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games hit home with me.  Like most of us this has been part of the overall sporting scene for all or most of our lives.  I am old enough to have been alive during the 1940 and 1944 cancellations due to the Second World War although as I was only 10 by the time of the latter one I did not pay much attention.  I was too busy with watching dogfights over London and then a few years later the arrival of the dreaded V1-the Buzzbomb.  By 1948 when London manfully staged the Austerity Games with the support of the USA and much of the (then)   British Empire I was much more interested in such things and followed what I could on the radio and in the newspapers.  I think it was that era which sparked my interest in Track and I have followed nearly all of the ensuing Games with varying levels of fervour.  Much to my great regret I have never actually attended an Olympic Games and now clearly will never do so.
I am not too sorry about that as the Games are so different from the original ideals set down by de Coubertin and generally ( except 1936) followed by everyone until around 1960 when things started to change.  The quality of the Games was not in doubt and TV made it so much easier and enjoyable to follow.  Soon after most of the worlds sports were beginning to hold their own World Championships  and the relevance of the OG is being put into question.  The IOC is its own worst enemy and greed and avarice are top of their agenda,  They appear not to pay too much attention to the needs and safety of the athletes ( their indentured servants) and the fans so long as those lovely dollars keep rolling in.  The delay in making a formal decision to cancel or postpone the 2020 Games was delayed far too long and only came about now because of Canada’s firm stand.  I will miss watching the great performances on the Track but there is always the lingering doubt as to drug use and that will likely be with us forever.  The on again off again handling of the Russia case is a further black mark against the ruling elite of the sport .
I feel very sorry for the athletes, many of whom have given up many years of their young lives to be able to achieve the dream of Olympic participation. While I am merely ( or was) a recreational athlete I have known a few Olympic participants in varying degrees and have a good idea of what they went through for in most cases little or no material reward.  Also I feel for the fans who have been waiting for four years or more to visit Tokyo and enjoy the Games.  I understand that they can expect no recompense for the large dollars they have shelled out because the Swiss gnomes made sure that the fine print in the Olympic charter covered that little matter.  This is not to take into account the numerous coaches and support teams that are needed to put on such an affair.
I am led to start thinking that we should have seen the last of the Olympic Games and that the obscene amounts of cash that they consume particularly in the light of the “New World” that we will inevitably be facing after the Corona Virus finally fades from sight-if it ever does.
I know we shall emerge from this crisis as better people but there will be a lot of tough decisions to be made, and it would interesting to know the opinions of those who have been involved in Track at all levels as to whether I am making any sense.”

Thursday, March 26, 2020

V 10 N. 23 This Will Make You Feel Better Instantly

St. Olaf's Invitational 2015  Clik here.

Today I received an email from Dick Daymont in Minnesota.  I was reminded that about 5 years ago we posted a video of a cross country meet at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.  That film was made by Dick's son, Tom.    I looked at it again today and was crying over the beauty of Tom's work.  We live in a confined atmosphere these days.  Okay, I know some of you are sneaking out and getting a bit of exercise, but this video will take you to new heights.  I suggest you watch this right now and turn up the volume on your earphones.  It is truly spectacular.  The wind turbine is running at the same beat as the music and it just infiltrates your senses.  What a beautiful day, beautiful place, beautiful sport.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

V 10 N. 22 No Boston This Year? Here's the 1929 Race

Getting tired of the same Covid 19 on the 24 hour news?   Tired of 100 best plays of the decade?
Well here's some re-runs I bet you have never seen.

We are not going to see the 2020 Boston Marathon next month.  And we won't get those great race photos from Ned Price who lives a few blocks off the course.  But Ned came up with two great films of Boston  1929 won by Johnny Miles in 2 hr 33   with sound  and New York City 1934.    Note how little crowd control there is for the NYC race.  The leaders seem to be accompanied the whole way by an unmarked car, but the runners have to fend for themselves through the congested streets.  Holy crap.  These guys were definitely trail blazers.  At one point they go onto a sidewalk to make a right turn.

   The Boston race course hasn't changed much at all through the opening miles, a narrow country road down from Hopkinton.  In both races the crowd at the finish line keeps closing in on the runners until there is no room in NYC for the third runner to get through.   The Boston runners are escorted a few feet from the finish line into a building, possibly a hotel while reporters try to get a few words.

This Boston film and the NYC films are beautifully filmed.  You can hear the foot slapping of the runners in the Boston race and some shouted comments from the film car.

Boston Marathon 1929  Won by Johnny Miles  2 hr 33.

The NYC race is really two short films.
The second one has some of the same footage as the first, but there is a lot more film in this second  one not seen in the first.  It goes from downtown out to Long Island.  Won by Bill Steiner.  Time 2hr 23 noted on the first frames, which seems a tad fast for those days. 

Just checked.  No one got below 2 hr 25 until Jim Peters did it in 1952 with a 2 hr. 20.

NYC Marathon 1934

From Bill Schnier
That footage was awesome.  Boston went from country to city whereas NYC went from city to country.  Clearly Boston was more organized at that time because there were lead cars, spectators, and an actual plan for running the race.  It is no wonder the NYC marathon faded after that. 
   In both cases the leaders were quite good, around 2:33.  I wonder, with current training and Vaporflys, how fast they would have run?  In Boston the leader got lots of questions and attention, second place did pretty well also, but third place was pretty much ignored.  The NYC race looked more like a training run since clearly nobody had been alerted about the race except a few people at the finish line.  That must really have been an adventure.  The runners were on their own.
   Univ. of Cincinnati grad, Ted Corbitt, charted out the course for the recent NYC Marathon, first mostly in Central Park then after a few years through all five boroughs.  He was an amazing man and truly a giant in long distance lore.

From George:  A real sleuth could try to chart out the course from these films.  At one point they must be near a cemetery in Long Island, because there are several businesses advertising tombstones on their store fronts.

From Roy:Great stuff.  I would love to see the winners' training logs.  NY added an element of excitement - the threat of carnage caused by cars.  It was as if no one told city officials that a race was scheduled.  Cars crossing the street just in front of the runners made finishing a gamble.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

V10 N. 21 It's Official, Tokyo 2020 Is Now Tokyo 2021, sort of...

It's official   Tokyo 2020 is now Tokyo 2021.   Not really, the Japan games committee is going to continue to call it the 2020 Olympics, so they don't have to throw away or overprint all those T Shirts they hoped to sell this summer.   Canada and Australia tipped over the bucket by stating they were withdrawing yesterday.  That's what it took for the IOC and the Japan Committee to see the light.

The Guardian   clik here to read The Guardian report.

The organizing committee actually did an overprint on their logo.   Now the question in the US is what about the Prefontaine Classic and the Olympic Trials and the World Championships?   Actually the first two are moot.  They will happen.  As for what to do about the World Championships, we're either going to have a lot of great track meets next summer or they may combine the WC with the OG.  It's an option. 

Another option this year is if the Conference Champhionships, Nationals, and Relays wish to be held,  ie. NCAAs, Drake, Penn, Mt. Sac.  Our suggestion is have them this Fall.  Drake can be held on a weekend that the Bulldog football team is playing an away game.    Those track athletes should be fired up for some competition this fall.  Cross country is a 'minor' sport to many and could be set aside or it could continue as always.  Remember when we would sometimes run cross country meets at half time of hte football games and finish in front of the football crowed?    From a financial point of view and academic, the seniors who have been granted another year of eligibility could come back in the Fall and complete their degrees and be out of there by Christmas, thus freeing up athletic scholarships to the incoming freshman class.

The big if is whether the Covid-19 will have passed by September or October or whether it will have mutated and come back with a second hit, as the 1918 pandemic did.  It's time for those college and athletic administrators to earn their inflated salaries by making some wise decisions.

Bill Schnier has added to these comments with his deep knowledge of NCAA rules which would come into play with my proposal above.

 Very interesting suggestion about the Drake and Penn Relays being held in the fall.  Since they are mostly college events, NCAA rules would have to be readjusted to allow competition in the fall, but since competition was prevented this spring they might make an exception.  I think it would be great.  Recent years saw southern meets held on the same day as Drake and Penn with more favorable weather overcoming tradition.  In one or two years those great meets were trivialized.  Since NCAA qualifying marks are the ONLY thing that count these days, teams flocked to Arkansas and Texas rather than Des Moines and Philly.  This would be a perfect opportunity to honor the great relay meets, including Mt. SAC, which have brought so much joy to the T&F community.  Let's get a petition approved to the NCAA.  Bill.

Oh the marketing nightmare!! I like Bill's comments. It will be so sad if the traditional meets aren't maintained and upheld as the event to compete in. These young ones need to know the rich history and to be able to say, What an honor I got to compete in the (insert competition)! :D

Sunday, March 22, 2020

V 10 N. 20 "Hell, No. We Won't Go" Canada Takes the First Bold Step

This evening in The Guardian it was announced that Canada has stated that it shall not attend the Olympics.   Following our prediction last week,  expect a domino effect as nations begin spouting the same policy and eventually the games will go crash for this year.  Looks like the Aussies may be next.

Here is the beginning of the Guardian article.

Canada has become the first country to warn that it won’t send its athletes to the Tokyo Olympics unless they are postponed for a year, as pressure builds to delay the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Canadian Olympic Committee said holding the Games as planned would threaten the health of its athletes, “their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training for these Games”.
“In fact, it runs counter to the public health advice which we urge all Canadians to follow,” it said in a statement, hours after the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, conceded for the first time that postponement was now a possibility if the Games could not be held in their “complete form”.
The committee added: “While we recognise the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community.”
The Australian Olympic committee (AOC), meanwhile, has told its athletes to prepare to compete in the Olympics in the northern-hemisphere summer of 2021.

Sayonara but not goodbye. 

1.Good decision by Canada.  This is not akin to the US boycott in 1980 but instead is a first step toward more countries doing the same, sort of a domino theory of the Olympics.

2.Yes indeed

I see the first 3 Diamond League meets have been postponed so far...

3.One snow flake starts an avalanche.  How long will it take for us to join the slide?.  

But what if Tokyo just postpones til late Fall?

4.Late Fall it might snow.....

5.It would be interesting to look back to 1980 when President Carter took the US out of the Moscow Olympics and expected others to follow suit.  Not many did.  How did he manage this?  Did he pressure the USOC directly or did he have some special legislated power to say that we were staying home?

Then earlier the Africans decided to boycott in 1976 when a New Zealand rugby team toured South Africa.  Rugby was not even an Olympic sport.  I thing Ethiopia, then in our pocket, stayed in the games but the Kenyans and Tanzanians boycotted along with a lot of other African nations.  For that, Henry Rono never got a shot at an olympic medal.   I can't remember if Kenya boycotted in 1980.  

V 10 N. 19 Walt Murphy's This Day in Track and Field

Our mutual blog writer, Walt Murphy sent the following note.  Some of you on his mailing list may have been left off recently.  Also if you are not on his mailing list he explains how to get on it.  His daily blog is a must read.  Full of what happened on this day in track and field over a long period of time.  It covers some of his own adventures as a track nut, and includes a of information on music and entertainment.  But it is primarily for the track and field reader.  Here is his note along with the March 20 issue (track stuff only).  You can reach Walt at    wmurphy25@aol.com

Hi George,
   I had to recreate my master email file some time ago, and it looks like your address was inadvertently dropped. Sorry 'bout that.
   Still trying to get the word out about This Day in T&F, especially at a time when there's very little current news for fans to read about these days.
   Would you be willing to let your readers know they can sign up for free just by contacting me?

P.S. Since I was there in 1964, I've been looking forward to this year's Olympics ever since they were awarded to Tokyo, but I'm not optimistic that they are going to take place.

(c)Copyright 2020-all rights reserved. May not be reprinted or retransmitted without permission
This Day in Track & Field/X-Country--March 20
(Bikila, World Cross-’71, ’77, ’83, ’05, ’11, 2016 World Indoors/Birthdays-Shamier Little, Kevin Sullivan, Shola Lynch, Dennis Lewis, Rick Wanamaker)
1969--Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila, the winner of the marathon at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics, was involved in an automobile accident that  left him paralyzed from the waist down. His injuries ultimately led to his death in 1973. 
1971--Doris Brown(Heritage) won her 5th (and final) World (International) X-Country title (2.8-miles) in San Sebastian, Spain, leading the U.S. women to a 3rd-place finish. Winners of the men’s Senior(7.5-miles) and Junior(4.35-miles)   races, respectively,  were England’s Dave Bedford and Nick Rose, a future NCAA Champion (1974/Western Kentucky). England swept all 3 team titles. (The U.S. only entered a women’s team!)
Other notable finishers
Senior Men: 9.Ian Stewart (Scotland), 10.Rod Dixon (New Zealand), 12.Gaston Roelants (Belgium); DNF-Emiel Puttemans (Belgium). 
Junior Men:18.Eamonn Coghlan (Ireland/destined to become the “Chairman of the Boards”), 24.Neil Cusack (Ireland/1972 NCAA Champion-East Tennessee/winner of the 1974 Boston Marathon)
Women: 11.Beth Bonner (USA/Unofficially the 1st female “winner” of the NY City Marathon-1971)
1977--Top-10 finishes from winner Thom Hunt and Mark Spilsbury (5th) led the U.S. to a narrow win over Spain (36-40) at the World X-C Championships in Brussels, giving the Americans their 4th straight title in the Men’s Junior Race. Other U.S. team members--Marty Froelick (12th), Chris Fox(18th), who would coach Syracuse to the 2015 NCAA XC title, Harold Schulz (33rd), and Jeff Creer(34th).
Sue Kinsey’s 8th-place finish helped the USA win the silver medals in the women’s race.
Other Races:
Senior Men(12.3k/Belgium)-1.Leon Schots (Belgium) 37:43, 2.Carlos Lopes (Portugal) 37:48…24.Jeff Wells (USA)…37.Rob De Castella (Australia), 42.Gary Tuttle (USA), 44.Jos Hermens (Netherlands), 45.Dave Bedford (England), 91.Ray Treacy (Ireland), 99.Tom Wysocki (USA), 103.Steve Jones (Wales), 104.Tony Sandoval (USA), 106.Jon Anderson (USA, 109.Neil Cusack (Ireland), 111.Ric Rojas (USA), 112.Steve Flanagan (USA/Shalane’s father), 132.Roger Robinson (New Zealand/running journalist), 159.Donal Walsh (Ireland/ex-Villanova) 
Senior Women(5.1k/Soviet Union):1.Carmen Valero (Spain (17:26), 2.Lyudmila Bragina (Soviet Union) 17:28, 8.Sue Kinsey (USA) , 9.Anne Audain (New Zealand), 11.Kathy Mills (USA), 14.Julie Brown (USA), 15.Paula Neppel (USA), 48.Doris Brown-Heritage (USA), 54.Eryn Forbes (USA) 
1982—Billy Olson  cleared 18-8  ¾ (5.71) in Brownwood,TX, to break Dave Roberts’ 6-year old American Record in the Pole Vault (18-8  1/4/5.70).
1983--The U.S. squad put on a strong display in the women’s race at the World X-C Championships in Gateshead, England, as Joan Benoit (4th), Betty Springs(5th), Margaret Groos(9th), and Jan Merrill(13th) all ran well to give the U.S. its 3rd team title (also won the women’s race in 1975 and 1979). Also on the U.S. team were Nan Doak(40th) and Kathy Hadler(42nd). Norway’s Grete Waitz won her 5th (and final) individual title.
There was an exciting Senior Men’s race (12k) as four men came across the finish line together, with Ethiopia’s Bekele Debele (36:52) edging Portugal’s Carlos Lopes (36:52), Kenya’s Some Muge (36:52), and American Alberto Salazar (36:53). The U.S. also got a 9th-place finish from Pat Porter as it won the team silver medals behind Ethiopia (Kenya was 3rd). Other members of the U.S. squad (9 entries, 6 scored):Thom Hunt (28), Ed Eyestone(30), the current men’s coach at BYU, Craig Virgin(47), Mark Anderson(57), Doug Brown(118), Bill Donakowski(147), and John Idstrom(160). The U.S. team celebrated its fine performance by climbing to the roof of their hotel and raising the American flag!
2005--(St.Etienne,France). Still grieving over the sudden death of his fiancee earlier in the year, Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele won the short(3-19) and long(3-20) double for the 4th year in a row. The U.S., led by top-25 finishes from Lauren Fleshman(11th), Blake Russell(15th), Shalane Flanagan(20th), and Shayne Culpepper(21st), won the bronze medals in the women’s short course race.
2011—U.S. women came away with individual and team bronze medals at the World X-Country Championships in warm conditions in Punta Umbria, Spain. 
Shalane Flanagan (25:10) finished 3rd in the 9k race, behind Kenyans Vivian Cheruiyot (24:58) and Linet Masai (25:07), to lead the American team to its 2nd straight 3rd-place finish. Supporting Flanagan with strong performances were Molly Huddle (17th), Magdalena Lewy-Boulet (18th), and Blake Russell (19th).
With 4 runners scoring, Kenya (15) was an easy team winner over Ethiopia (29) and the U.S. (57).
Said Flanagan, “I had to rise up and elevate my game today. I was so pleased to be in medal position. It was a lot of fun today. I know that we have to elevate our game in order to be in a medal position. I love the fact that this is a team sport, and there is a great team dynamic going with all of the ladies on the team”.
Other Races:
Senior Men (12k/Kenya-14)-1.Imane Merga (Ethiopia) 33:50, 2.Paul Tanui (Kenya) 33:52…35.Ben True (USA)
Junior Men (8k/Kenya-20)-1.Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya) 22:21…29.Craig Lutz (USA)
Junior Women (6k/Ethiopia-17)-1.Faith Kipyegon (Kenya) 18:53…17.Aisling Cuffe (USA) 
2016—It was a good weekend at the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, for Team USA, which captured a record total of 13 gold medals (also a record 23 medals overall).
5 of those gold medals were won on the final day of competition:
Full of run after a slow early pace(2:07.88/800!), Matthew Centrowitz sprinted past New Zealand’s Nick Willis in the homestretch to won the 1500-meters (3:44.22) and would go on to win Olympic gold in Rio
A lineup of Kyle Clemons (46.6), Calvin Smith (45.6), Chris Giesting (45.3), and Vernon Norwood (45.0) won the 4x400 in 3:02.45 
Marquis Dendy won the Men’s Long Jump with a leap of 27-1  ¼ (8.26), 
High School senior Vashti Cunningham won the Women’s High Jump (6-5[1.96])
A lineup of Natasha Hastings (51.9), Quanera Hayes (51.0), Courtney Okolo (50.7), and Ashley Spencer (52.8) won the 4x400 in 3:26.38.
In other highlights, Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha (7:57.21) edged American Ryan Hill (7:57.39) in the men’s 3000; Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba (2:00.01) won the Women’s 800 over American Ajee’ Wilson (2:00.27); Genzebe Dibaba (8:47.43) and Meseret Defar (8:54.26) gave Ethiopia a 1-2 sweep in the Women’s 3000, with American Shannon Rowbury winning the bronze medal (8:55.55); Jamaica’s Omar McLeod won the Men’s 60-meter hurdles in 7.41.
Previous days’ recaps:
3-17/ France’s Renaud Lavillenie (19-9[6.02]) and American Jenn Suhr 16-3/4 (4.90) set Championship Records in the Men’s and Women’s Pole Vault, which were held in the Portland Convention Center. 
3-18/3 wins for the U.S.: Men’s 60-Trayvon Bromell(6.47); Women’s 60-hurdles-Nia Ali 7.81; Women’s Long Jump-Brittney Reese 23-8  ¼ (7.22);  Canada’s Brianne Theisen won the Pentathlon(4881).
3-19/4 more wins for the U.S.: Men’s 800 Boris Berian (1:45.83); Women’s 60-Barbara Pierre 7.02, Finishing behind Pierre in the women’s 60 were the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers (7.04) and Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson (7.06), who would later win the 100 and 200 at the Rio Olympics; Ashton Eaton(64760) won his 3rd straight title in the Heptathlon a day after his wife won the Pentathlon); Women’s Shot Put-Michelle Carter (66-3  ¾  [20.21]) got the win and an American Record on her last throw.
Born On This Day*
Shamier Little  25(1995)  3-time NCAA Champion while at Texas A&M (2014-2016)
                  Silver medalist in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2015 World Championships—failed to 
                     make the final  at the 2017 World Championships in London
                  2014 World Junior Champion—400-hurdles, 4x400
                  2-time U.S. Junior Champion—400-hurdles (2012,2014)
                  2015 Pan-American Games Champion—400-hurdles, 4x400
                  Considered one of the early favorites to win gold in Rio in 2016, she failed to make the final at the U.S. 
                     Olympic Trials…
                  4th at the 2019 U.S. Championships
                  Turned pro after the 2016 NCAA Championships, giving up her final year of collegiate eligibility. 
                  Ranked #1 in the World in 2018 (2015-#2, 2017-#4, 2019-#3)
                  PBs: 50.50/400 (2017), 52.75/400h (2017); 2019 SB53.73
                  Turning Pro:
                           Rankings: https://trackandfieldnews.com/rankings/
Kevin Sullivan 46(1974) 1995 NCAA Champion—1500m(Michigan/1994-3rd, 1997-2nd)
            3-time NCAA Indoor Champion—Mile (1995,1998), DMR (1995)  
            5th in the 1500 at the 1995 World Championships and 2000 Olympics…semi-finalist at the 2004 and 2008 
                Olympics and 4 World Championships (2001-2003-2005-2007)
            Canadian record holder 1500-meters (3:31.71/2000), mile (3:50.26/2000)
            Other PBs: 3:55.33i (1995), 7:41.61 (2008), 13:19.27 (2007)
            Currently the head men’s X-Country coach at Michigan, his alma mater.
            Video-1998 NCAA Indoor Mile(Great Finish)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfwO2nLCWdM
Shola Lynch 51(1969)  2-time U.S. Junior Champion—800m(1983-14 at the time!,1986)
            All-American at Texas—5th at the 1992 NCAA Championships
            Ran 2:07.14 in 1983 as a 14-year old 8th-grader
            Currently a noted filmmaker…directed “Runner”, part of ESPN’s Nine for IX series, which commemorated the 40th
                  anniversary of Title IX—featured Mary Decker and Zola Budd.
            Regular on Sesame Street from the age of 2-6!
(All New)
Dan Steele 51(1969)  1992 NCAA Champion—400m-Hurdles (Eastern Illinois/1990-5th); PBs:49.79 (1992), 8130(1999)
            8th in the Decathlon at the 1999 World Championships; 5th at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials
            Silver medalist in the Decathlon at the 1999 Pan-American Games
            2-time U.S. Olympian in the bobsled (1998,2002)…bronze medalist in the 4-man event in 2002
            Coached Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen while they were at the University of Oregon…also coached at Northern 
                 Iowa and Iowa State
            Still recovering from a near-fatal stroke that he suffered in 2017, he hopes to return to coaching some day.
            Twin brother Darrin had a decathlon best of 8129 and was also a 2-time U.S. Olympian in the bobsled.
Darrin Steele  51(1969) All-American in the Decathlon (Eastern Illinois/1991 NCAA-5th); PB:8129 (1995)
            2-time U.S. Olympian in the bobsled(1998,2002)…Former CEO of USA Bobsled and Skeleton
            See above for info on his twin brother Dan
Dennis Lewis 61(1959)  1984 U.S. Indoor Champion—High Jump 
            Thought he had set an American Record when he cleared 7-8  ¼ in the high jump at a meet hosted by USC. 
However, that was an imperial measurement and U.S.(and IAAF) rules required that all new records in field events must be measured metrically. When officials checked their conversion tables, they discovered there was no metric equivalent for 7-8  ¼, so they had to submit a mark of 2.34, which meant that Lewis would only get credit for tying Dwight Stones’ AR of 7-8!
      "I'm not upset about the changing of the marks," Lewis said. "It's early in the season. There is no way I can be peaking now. How can I be peaking when it's my first meet?” (As it turned out, Lewis never did jump higher than he did on this date).
         Lewis had set a National H.S. Indoor Record of 7-2(2.185?) as a senior at Ypsilanti(MI) H.S. in 1977 and jumped   7-3(2.21) indoors as a Michigan State freshman in 1978, but quickly faded from the sport for a variety of reasons.
          He returned to competition in 1984, winning the U.S. Indoor title over a loaded field, and finishing 7th at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
He was ranked #5 in the U.S. in 1985 and #4 in 1986, and later became active in Masters competition, clearing 6-8  ¼(2.06) in 2006 at the age of 47.
Hilary Tuwei—Kenya 64(1956) 4-time NCAA finalist in the steeplechase while at Richmond
                 (’77-4th, ’78-4th, ’79-3rd, ’80-5th)
            NCAA Indoor-3 mile(’79-2nd, ’80-5th); PBs: 13:33.6/5k, 28:35.8, 8:22.4sc
Clyde McPherson  69(1951)  2-time NCAA Indoor Champion—Mile Relay (Adelphi/1971,1972)
            1971 Penn Relays Champion—Mile Relay (46.7 anchor); PB:46.7y(1972)
            4-time NCAA Div.II Champion—440y(1970), Mile Relay(1970-1972)
Rick Wanamaker 72(1948)  Was the 1st  NCAA Champion in the Decathlon(Drake/1970); 1971 U.S. Champion; 
            1971 Pan-American Games Champion; PB:7989 (1971)
            Ranked #1 in the U.S. in 1971, he suffered a sprained ankle (his plant foot) a few days before the start of the 
                1972 U.S. Olympic Trials…finished 18th after no-heighting in the Pole Vault and only clearing 6-feet in the High 
                Jump (had a best of 7-feet).
            Standing 6’-8” (2.03), he played basketball at Drake University…once blocked a shot by UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (aka 
                 Kareem Abdul Jabbar) in the 1969 Final Four semi-finals(Drake almost upset the Bruins)…play was #100 in the 
                 Bleacher Report’s 100 greatest plays in College Basketball history (Through 2012)
Jim Dupree  (1936-?) 2-time U.S. Champion—880y (1961, 1963-finished 2nd to Canada’s Bill Crothers)
            1961 NCAA Champion—880y(Southern Illinois)
            A freshman at New Mexico at the time, he finished in a virtual dead-heat with Ernie Cunliffe for 3rd place in the 
                800-meters at the 1960 U.S. Olympic Trialstook officials a very long time to decide that Cunliffe would be the 
                3rd member of the U.S. team (along with Tom Murphy and Jerry Siebert)

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...