Hary's strength as a sprinter lies in the first 50 meters of a race. He has, easily, the fastest acceleration that any sprinter has ever had; if he were to run 50-yard sprints indoors no one would ever be near him. This whippet-fast acceleration gave him a three-yard cushion over Sime at 50 meters. For the last 50 meters it was a question whether or not the wonderful gliding top speed that is Sime's could overcome this margin.
Sime came very close. He ran a beautiful race; ordinarily a poor starter, he started better than anyone but Hary this time. He closed very quickly in the final 20 meters, running in the odd, straight-up style which is peculiarly his, and he lunged so desperately at the tape that he sprawled full length in the red dust of the track as the race ended. But he was still a big inch short of victory.
Hary accepted his gold medal and the booming " Hary, Hary, Hary" of the German rooters with his usual gracelessness. Said he, "The start was excellent. I wanted to run through all three of them, damn 'em [the Americans]. Before the race, they kept on looking at each other, shaking hands and assuring each other they would win, black or white. I lost a tenth of a second on the start. I waited. By then I was as nervous as a woman."
Hary dropped out of the 200 meters the next day. He said it was because he wanted to concentrate on preparing for the 400-meter relay, which the Germans hoped to win. He is not a very good 200-meter runner, because the impetus of that explosive start dies rapidly.
Berruti, who won the 200 meters, starts very poorly. Oddly, he started well enough in the finals. He was nervous and had one false start, but he was away quickly. So were Norton and Johnson, but Berruti, running with that impala-sleek stride of his, picked up a lead on them around the turn. He came into the straight three yards ahead and held on to that lead smoothly as the crowd began a rolling, booming roar. Suddenly Les Carney, the No. 3 American 200-meter runner, began to close quickly down the outside lane. Like Sime, Carney dived for the tape and, again like Sime, he was too late. Berruti won the most satisfying victory of the Games.
All of the Italians gave him their hands, voice and heart. When the three young girls who carry out the gold, silver and bronze medals on silver trays walked out for the presentation in the 200 meters, the one who carried Berruti's medal wept unashamedly. When the band played the jaunty Italian national anthem, more Italians wept. It was a very emotional moment, and a very pleasant one for all.
Psych job in a straw hat
On the first day of track and field competition the U.S. had a very pleasant moment of its own. Bill Nieder, Parry O'Brien and Dallas Long placed one-two-three in the shotput. Nieder, the world record holder, set an Olympic record at 64 feet 6� inches. He came out on the field wearing a ridiculous straw cowboy hat. "It was part of my psych job on O'Brien," he said later. "I wanted him to think this was just another meet for me. But I was really churning inside. My first put, the crowd yelled at a race and ruined my balance. The second one I fouled. The third, they hollered again, and on the fourth I fouled. Then I figured, I got to make it on the fifth. O'Brien was ahead, and I knew if I had only one put left the pressure would be too much. I kept saying to myself, ' O'Brien says old Nieder can't come through in the big ones; he's a cow pasture performer.' I got off a good one. The only one I used the finger flip on." (See right.)
O'Brien, watching from the sidelines, threw his towel in the air in disgusted resignation when he saw Nieder's put. He said nothing to Nieder or Long until the three stepped on the platform to accept their medals and turned to watch the three American flags run up over the Olympic flame. Then, in his state voice that sounds as though he were reciting words chiseled in marble, he leaned over and said, "Gentlemen, this is the ultimate."
This was on the first day of track and field competition. The second was gloomy Thursday. Norton, a lackluster replica of the Norton of the Olympic trials, finished sixth in the 100 meters. ("He's not right," said Bud Winter, an Olympic coach and Norton's coach at San Jose State. "He was ready four days ago. But he hasn't got that sparkle in his eye and the bounce in his step. He's flat.") None of the American 800-meter runners ( Tom Murphy, Jerry Siebert and Ernie Cunliffe) qualified for the finals. The best of the three, Siebert, who ran with a 101� fever, managed fourth in the semifinals in 1:48.