While Clarke was setting himself up for Mexico City with a pair of defeats, his swimming countrymen were preparing themselves with a series of decisive victories. "I've been saying since Tokyo," said the Aussies' stocky, 33-year-old swimming coach, Don Talbot, "that we'd be very close at Mexico City but not quite ready. But this proves we are a little ahead of schedule."
Talbot's two prizes are Mike Wenden and Pete Reynolds. Wenden is a 16-year-old schoolboy from New South Wales who often trains four times a day and appears now to be a match for Don Schollander of the U.S. Wenden is no Schollander for style—he thrashes through the water with the ferocity of a dog digging for bones—but at Kingston he set a world record in the 220-yard freestyle, defeated the world-record holder, Scotland's Robbie MacGregor, in the 110-yard freestyle and helped his team set world records in the 880- and 440-yard freestyle relays and the 440-yard medley relay.
Reynolds is far more graceful but just as effective. He is tall and bony, has long brown hair and large, wide ears and would look more at home hunting turkeys in West Virginia than seeking world records in a swimming pool. But he bagged two in the pool at Kingston: the 220-yard backstroke and the 440-yard individual medley. It must be kept in mind that all the world records at Kingston were set in yards rather than the more frequently contested metric distances. But the Australians matched or bettered the metric equivalent in three events and are certainly much improved from the team that won only four gold medals in the Tokyo Olympics.
If the Games were enjoyable for Keino, Temu and the Australian swimmers, they were a riot for the Malaysian men's badminton team, the best in the world. The Malaysians won both the singles and doubles titles, beating only each other in the finals of each. The English fencing team, which won gold medals in all seven events, had an equally fine time, as did the divers, who put on an exhibition of comic diving that had the poolside crowd stamping and even meet officials grinning in delight.
Like Ron Clarke, however, there are those who will remember the Games as something less than a Caribbean vacation. It is hot and humid in Kingston, and the town is the island's capital and commercial center, not a resort. To some, its crumbly buildings, its winding, narrow streets crowded with cars, wagons, bicycles, people and livestock possess an infectious turn-of-the-century charm. To others, who demand speed and modern efficiency, the place is just plain frustrating. Part of the problem is that Jamaicans have made a permanent adjustment to the heat. They are cheerful and polite, on the whole, but possess an equatorial somnolence that hardly lends itself to the swift completion of appointed rounds.
In the stadium only the opening ceremony was conducted on schedule. Despite long patches of inactivity on the track, the program ran up to an hour late while the athletes tried desperately to attune their warmups to the erratic schedule. There were foul-ups during the victory ceremonies when a flag could not be raised or the band played the wrong anthem. The broad jumpers staged a sit-down strike after an official had ordered so much water poured on their runway that they left muddy footprints in it when they tried to make their run-ups. Scotland's James Alder, winner of the marathon, almost lost the race because officials near the finish became confused over the proper route. Perhaps this was why the only world record bettered on the track came in the very last event. With Wendell Mottley, a graduate of Yale and a graduate student at Cambridge, running his anchor leg in 44.4, the mile-relay team from Trinidad-Tobago finished in 3:02.8. More important than records was what the Commonwealth's family get-together proved: its members will be fierce even in the less-than-British surroundings of the next Olympic Games.