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Gwilym S. Brown
February 11, 1963
They weren't really in condition, protested three Russian trackmen, but they jolted U.S. prestige with three brilliant wins
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February 11, 1963

A Flying Start For The U.s.s.r.

They weren't really in condition, protested three Russian trackmen, but they jolted U.S. prestige with three brilliant wins

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"I'm afraid Jim and I completely discounted the Russian," Cunliffe admitted. "We lost our edge fighting each other. But don't discount his race. That's a terrific time indoors."

In three of the five previous meetings between Boston and Ter-Ovanesyan, the American had to break records to win. After Ter's fantastic second jump on Saturday night, Boston faced up to the old challenge bravely, but this time without his usual competitive tools. Ter's advantage proved too much.

"I've been doing sprints and light technique work," Boston reported from Los Angeles, where he is a research technician in metabolic medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital. "But I haven't jumped for distance in two and a half months. I've been aiming for the Pan Am Games in April."

Boston's lack of preparation hurt him. He leaped 25 feet 10 on his first attempt and two inches less on his last, but he fouled on all four of his intervening jumps. Ter-Ovanesyan fouled twice and passed once, but the second jump was all he needed. An extremely springy runner, he hurtled down the runway, slammed his right foot into the white takeoff board and actually may have landed 28 feet away, almost a foot farther than his world outdoor record of 27 feet 3 inches. However, as he plunged feet first into the black dirt of the landing pit, Ter lost his balance for a moment and fell back. This cost him perhaps a foot, perhaps more. Even so, his jump topped Boston's former indoor mark by 3� inches.

Igor was satisfied but not particularly elated with his first victory over Boston.

"Sure I felt I could beat him," Ter-Ovanesyan, who needs no interpreter, said. "If I didn't feel that way I never would have a chance against him."

John Thomas, meanwhile, was putting up a dogged struggle to prevent a Russian sweep. The tall Negro cleared 7 feet on his first try. When Brumel brushed the bar going over on his first attempt and brought it down on top of him, the crowd, hungry for an upset, cheered loudly. But their joy did not last. With a casual flip of his right hand to indicate to officials that he was ready, Brumel made a slow, shuffling half-circle to the top of his run-up, suddenly shifted into a sprint and with one aggressive bound and roll was up and over. After Thomas had missed his first try at 7 feet 1, Brumel cleanly cleared that height as well. Thomas made 7 feet 1 on his second attempt, but it was the highest he had scaled since 1961 and he was capable of going no higher. Almost arrogantly, Brumel sailed over 7 feet 2, then permitted himself a slight smile and a languid wave to the crowd. The Russian sweep was complete.

The Russians—who will compete this week in Los Angeles and stay on through the National Championships on February 23—may well dominate the indoor season, but Millrose spectators could still relish a fine performance by wispy Tom O'Hara, a native of Chicago and a junior at Loyola University. O'Hara, 20, is a 5-foot-9, 130-pound redhead whose torso is frail but whose legs have the thick muscular development of a sprinter. His speed and his ability to withstand punishing workouts probably will bring him a sub-4-minute mile before the winter is over. Last year he chased Jim Beatty to 3:59.7 and 4:00.9 indoor miles, and Friday he pounded past Cary Weisiger coming out of the last turn to win the Wanamaker Mile by three yards in an excellent 4:01.5.

"If he didn't look as if he was in the 10th grade I wouldn't feel so bad," fumed Weisiger, "but I never dreamed I'd run under 4:02 here tonight and lose." Many another American and world miler is going to be surprised by O'Hara, who has been running for only four years but who already looks like one of the best distance runners ever developed in the U.S.

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