- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Confidence bubbled almost everywhere in the U.S. ranks. The Germans hoped to beat sprinter Ray Norton with their Armin Hary, whose flat 10 seconds for the 100 meters was ratified as a world record only last week. But Norton thought otherwise. Interviewed for the German television network, Norton was asked if he expected to win any gold medals. "Three," he said. "Three?" asked the announcer, surprised. Then he explained in an aside to his viewers that "the Americans are very informal, and you must not think this young man immodest." Turning back to Norton, he asked, "Which events?" "The 100, 200 and the sprint relay," Norton told him.
John Thomas, our presumably unbeatable high jumper, put on a special exhibition for the Russians. The Russian and American teams had planned a joint workout, and Coach Bud Winter decided to jolt Russia's Valeri Brumel, who has done seven feet. Thomas jumped 6 feet 8 in his sweat suit, then motioned to have the bar put at seven feet. Stripped to his uniform, he cleared the bar by four inches. The Russians came running, cameras in hand, and Thomas did it again, again by four inches. The pit was sand and Thomas would not ordinarily jump into so hard a landing area for fear of injury but, he told Winter, "We got a job, we'll do it."
Winter arranged a baton-passing practice for the benefit of the Germans. The U.S. team, which has not worked together as a unit, has had trouble with its baton-passing, but Stone Johnson and Norton, at least, do work very well in this phase. Winter put them through what he calls a "whistler," a pass at absolute top speed. The watching German coach shook his head dejectedly.
"Thirty-nine point two," he said hopelessly, guessing at the time, well under the world record, that he expects the American team to run in competition.
There was tragedy at the Games, presumably brought on by the intense heat. Knud Enemark Jensen, Danish cyclist, collapsed of what was diagnosed as heatstroke, and died in a hospital. Two other members of the Danish cycling team also collapsed, and the coincidence of three men on a single team being so singularly affected led to speculation that they had been using stimulant drugs, a charge the Danish coach at first fervently denied and then admitted. However, the doctor whom the coach named as having prescribed the drug insisted he hadn't done so and never would.
The extreme heat seemed to have no particular effect on the American athletes. The swimmers, indeed, said they liked it. Two U.S. teen-agers, Carolyn Schuler and Carolyn Wood, won their qualifying heats in the 100-meter butterfly event in 100�-plus temperature. Schuler, 17, broke the Olympic record by more than a second, and Wood, 14, was only a tenth of a second over it.
The third day, the U.S. finally won its first gold medal of the Games when Gary Tobian, a 25-year-old ex-G.I., took the three-meter springboard diving title. Tobian upset his favored teammate, Sam Hall, who finished second. In the last round, Hall made a spectacular bid for victory with a daring optional dive, but Tobian immediately countered with an equally good execution of the same dive, which put him barely ahead on points. Then Mexico's Juan Botella, who also had a good chance to win, let the pressure get him. He flubbed his last dive completely and finished third.
A few hours later, U.S. hopes got another lift when Bill Mulliken broke his own three-day-old Olympic record in winning the first of the 200-meter breaststroke semifinals. He clipped eight-tenths of a second off his old mark of 2:38 flat.
But some of the day's yield of cheer for Americans was washed away when Chris von Saltza finished second to Australia's Dawn Fraser in the 100-meter freestyle final. Miss Fraser had been nearly everybody's favorite in this event, which she has now won for the second straight time, but Von Saltza partisans had still been hopeful. They could point out, at least, that Dawn was obliged to equal her own world record of 1:01.2 to win.
Meanwhile, the Russians began to demonstrate their strength in events which Americans, generally, consider minor sports, by capturing three gold medals in the seven canoeing finals. Russia's husky Antonina Seredina came from behind to win the 500-meter kayak singles by inches from Germany's Therese Zenz and set a new Olympic record of 2:08.08. Later she teamed with Maria Shubina and took another first in the 500-meter kayak pairs. The Russians' third gold-medal winners were Sergei Makarenko and Leonid Geishtor in the 1,000-meter Canadian doubles.