So he took them technique. Now the only Fulbright scholar working in sports, he coaches at the Cameroon National Institute of Youth and Sport in Yaoundé. Over the past 10 years he has trained and sent as many as 50 West African sprinters to U.S. universities, including Innocent Egbunike (Azusa Pacific) and Chidi Imoh (Missouri), who in their respective events—the 400 and 100—last year were ranked No. 2 in the world.
Beamon, in the years after Mexico, followed a haphazard course. He was lionized in Europe, signing autographs simply, "8.90," but his work as a TV commentator fizzled because he is an austerely laconic man in public.
He graduated from Adelphi in 1972 and studied for a master's in counseling from San Diego State. Since 1982 he has been an administrator in the Dade County (Fla.) Parks and Recreation Department. He also works with the Special Olympics and with antipoverty organizations. In terms of exposure, he has benefited more from Lewis's sustained attack on his record than from setting it in the first place.
Each year that Beamon's and Evans's records go unbroken, they become more impressive memorials to a time and day that charged us with fearful wonder. Beamon even seemed to suspend the laws of physics. All these big, black, newly proud guys seemed able to break world records at will.
The natural reaction (at least of this '68 Olympic teammate) was simply to step back in awe. But America, already reeling from changes in thought and mores, didn't wholly care for that. Awe isn't a frame of mind we're good at sustaining anyway. And such was the power of Smith's and Carlos's upraised fists that their beloved country translated that awe into fear and disdain. That fell upon all the black champions of Mexico City, Evans and Beamon included.
"It seems like the '68 Olympics have been erased from the history books," says James. "It's in the minds, but not the literature."
It's an interesting question: These men were giants on the earth; will it take the breaking of their records, the final removal of their potency, for them at last to be gratefully celebrated?