In a rare moment of pessimism last week, John Foster Dulles conceded that the U.S. might well "lose its shirt" in a diplomatic contest with Russia on Russian terms at the summit. No such pessimism clouds the determination of the potential diplomats who grace this page. Each of them has achieved a summit of sorts on her own and each hopes confidently to sustain her position when some of the best women athletes in the U.S.S.R. meet those of the U.S. in Russia this spring and summer.
The women bordering the page are the pick of Russia's track and field stars who will pit their skills against their U.S. counterparts in a dual track meet at Moscow in late July. The Russian girls, whose performance in general at the 1956 Olympics outshone that of their menfolk, include Discus Thrower Nina Ponomaryeva; High Jumper Valentina Ballod; 230-pound Olympic Champion Tamara Tishkyevich, who credits her shotputting skill to the fact that "I eat, eat, eat and then I throw farther"; Hurdler N. Yeliseyeva; and 800-meter runner Y. Yermolayeva, whose chance of victory will be augmented by the fact that American girls do not ordinarily compete at this distance.
Even the most ardent partisans of the West concede these determined distaffers a good chance at victory in the ancient sport of track and field. But Western prestige may still hold its own and more on the Soviet summit when a team of 12 top girl basketballers representing the U.S. arrives in Moscow late this month to tour Russia in a series of games against the best girl cagers of the U.S.S.R.
Whatever the outcome in either sport, the ablest women in two disparate worlds of sport will have ample opportunity this season to take full measure of each other's skill in what might once have been called "open diplomacy openly arrived at."
Russia-Bound basketballers include (front row, kneeling) Barbara Sipes and Sandra Fiete of Iowa Wesleyan College, Kay Garmes and Kay Washington of Wayland; (back row) Coach John Head, Margaret Holloran, Nera White, Joan Crawford, Joan Brown, Shirley Byrd and Peggye Tate, all of Nashville Business, plus Edith Keaton and Lucille Davidson from Kansas City Midland.