He went back across the field with his head up this time. He met Oliver Jackson and grinned happily.
"I guess I'll cancel my plane reservation," he said. "I think I've got it back. With another week to work, I may make it."
If he does—and that is still a distinct long shot, considering the quality of the sprint field he faces in the Olympic trials—Morrow will be only one of many Olympic veterans who have come back. Bobby reached his peak with the narrowest of margins to spare. Most of the others who performed brilliantly in the AAU meet timed their conditioning better. But for nearly all, the struggle to return to the exuberant speed and strength of youth was unbelievably hard.
Glenn Davis, the Olympic 400-meter hurdles champion, won his event in 50.1 seconds, running powerfully and hurdling with the clipped efficiency that makes each hurdle seem only a longer step for him. He's a leaner Davis than he was in 1956 but he seems stronger, and maybe, by the time he gets to Rome, faster.
"I thought I had lost my speed," he said. "I worked and worked and worked and it wouldn't come. You can't believe how tough it was. I thought for sure it was gone. But this is a bigger challenge for me than it was in 1956. I didn't want to quit, and one day—boom—there it was. I ran a 51 flat. I knew it was back and I'd be all right."
Davis has been fortunate in that no annoying injuries hampered his training this year. But then most of the veterans, nursing themselves carefully into condition, managed to avoid the muscle pulls and strains which often slow the uninitiated.
"We have one big advantage that comes with experience," said Al Cantello, the stocky, 29-year-old marine lieutenant who won the javelin throw with a cast of 271 feet 9 inches. "We know our bodies. We know how long it takes to recover from an injury. We don't rush into competition."
Harold Connolly, who has a particular fondness for the hammer circle at Bakersfield because he set his world record there in 1958, hit 224 feet 4� inches on his second throw, then forgot the wisdom of experience. He was throwing with a sore back and the long throw was an obvious winner, but he had to try once more. On his third throw he tore a muscle. He still expected to compete in the trials, but he would not be able to work out at all.
"I got greedy, I guess," he said. "I like this ring so much. I thought maybe I could set another record."
All in all, nine AAU records were broken and one tied as the old men of the track world let themselves go, but the only world record was set by a youngster, 19-year-old John Thomas, in the high jump. Thomas, who has made the 7-foot jump a clich�, cleared 7 feet 2 inches under the most trying circumstances. A gusty, fitful wind jiggled the crossbar between jumps, and he had to stand for long minutes, waiting for the wind to die down. He cleared the bar on his second try, brushing it very lightly with his trailing leg, then lay in the sawdust and watched it bounce gently a few times. Finally it fell. The judges first ruled the jump a good one, but they were correctly overruled by Pincus Sober, the meet referee.