Jazy jumped up and down. "Merci! Merci!" he yelled to his copains. He hugged and kissed them. Herding his pals with him, Jazy trotted around the track waving his arms in the tour of honor. The crowd of 3,000 stood and applauded as this man—high-waisted, thick-bodied, with long thin legs and an almost too pretty face—leaped and danced past the bleachers. Michel Jazy had become the first Frenchman to hold the world mile record since Jules Ladoumègue in 1931. A night of glory for French sportsmen.
"The mile," Jazy said joyously, "has been my ambition. All the really great names are there: Bannister, Landy, Elliott, Snell. These men are idols to me. Now the ambition is realized. I've done what I set out to do."
But Jazy was far from finished. His prediction for great coups in the month of June was more than a boast. Beginning with that mile record in Rennes on June 9, Jazy launched into perhaps the most fantastic month of middle-distance running in history.
Two weeks after the meet in Rennes, Jazy went to Melun, 30 miles south of Paris, for a confrontation with Ron Clarke, the world record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, three, six and 10 miles. Some critics had scoffed at Jazy's mile record, saying the rabbits cheapened it, that Jazy is formidable in a paced race but that when a really tough, capable runner is pressing him he is a failure.
With Clarke in Europe on a tour and with the challenge plainly offered, Jazy had a chance to refute the critics. He and Clarke are friends. "Clarke taught me a lot of things, not only in the field of athletics but also in the field of human relations. I hold him in immense esteem," said Jazy. In reply to those who said he would avoid Clarke, Jazy said, "French sportswriters seem to know more about what I am doing than I do myself. The fact is I am at my best running against competition. I love human contact. If I ran against the clock, I would train against the clock. But my maxim is to run, run and keep running until I am satisfied. I look at my watch and I say O.K., I'm going to run for two hours. I don't check off each kilometer against elapsed time. At a race what I do depends on the circumstances, on the track and my competitors."
Jazy and Clarke were to run two miles in Melun, although the distance was a bit short for Clarke. The two arranged to share the pacing until the last lap. When Clarke heard Jazy's friend Joseph Mallejac suggest laps of 63 seconds in an attempt to beat American Bob Schul's two-mile record, he looked startled. "It's a little quick, but I'll try," said the Australian.
Jazy led at 400 meters in 61 seconds. Clarke led at 800 in 2:03.3, and the two of them passed the mile in 4:11.4, only three-tenths of a second behind where Schul had been. The crowd of 6,000 became hysterical. At 2,000 meters Clarke was in front, but his knees were rising higher than usual with the unnaturally fast pace. Jazy spurted into a 10-yard lead in the sixth lap and at 3,000 meters was ahead of his own world record for that distance. With his head rolling in his curious manner, Jazy sprinted toward the finish line. Clarke, gasping, was 20 yards back when Jazy broke the tape.
Fans and photographers swarmed over Jazy three yards beyond the finish. Some carried "Vive Jazy" banners. The time was announced at 8:22.6 (3.8 seconds better than Schul), and Jazy had broken two world records in a single night. Clarke finished in 8:24.8 and was amazed. "I thought 8:29 was the best I could do. I couldn't stay with Jazy at the end. He's the greatest," said Clarke.
But Jazy was not yet through with his romance with the month of June. In Saint-Maur, only two days after Melun, he ran the third leg on the French 6,000-meter relay team that set a world relay record of 14:49. It was his fourth world record of the month and—including the 2,000-meter record that he set in June of 1962—gave him a total of five world and seven European records over the middle distances.
Considering that he almost retired from running last fall, Jazy's return had been especially remarkable. He had first become internationally known by running second to Herb Elliott in the 1,500 meters in the Rome Olympics in 1960. By the Tokyo Olympics, Jazy was a hero in France and was expected, by the French at least, to win the 5,000 meters. "For four years I thought of nothing else than being an Olympic champion," Jazy said. "In those days before Tokyo," said Mallejac, a pleasant, blond-haired man who works for the French Track Federation, "he was a cocky fighter."