The most logical, yet somehow one of the most disappointing American defeats of the week occurred at Rome's fashionable Campo di Golf on the new Appian Way. It was on the final day of the modern pentathlon, and the last test was a 4,000-meter run over hill and dale on the golf course.
Ahead in the individual standings was a tall, nearsighted and not particularly athletic-looking young Navy j.g. named Bob Beck. He had already ridden, fenced, shot and swum his way into the lead, and now he had to excel in his weakest event to turn back a pair of fast Hungarians. As he loped away, his slim, ash-blonde wife, Roman, walked to a knoll near No. 9 green, the better to watch. Her hands trembled as she lit a cigarette, just as they had a few days before, when Beck started the riding event.
Fifteen minutes after he started running Beck lunged rubber-legged to the finish and collapsed into the arms of two Italian soldiers. They laid him out on a stretcher, and a Red Cross nurse gave him oxygen. After all the agony, Beck finished only third, beaten 43 points by Hungary's Ferenc Nemeth.
Beck will be back in 1964. And watch out for his wife, too. Roman got so excited about the Olympics that she tried out for the women's track team.