Paul Nash, the world's fastest white man, won the 100-meter dash in a meeting of South African champions at Potchefstroom in the western Transvaal a few weeks ago. Some 7,000 whites and two Bantu watched him overtake a good field—all white—to win easily by a couple of yards in 10.2 seconds. A month before, the victory would have insured his selection on the South African Olympic team. As it was it meant only that he was still the best sprinter, black or white, in Africa.
A week later, at the Libanon Gold Mine Stadium, which is 30 miles from Johannesburg and halfway between that city and Potchefstroom, Joseph Leserwane, a tall, slender Bantu who works as a mine clerk and wears a rather sparse Vandyke beard, won the South African nonwhite 100-meter championship in 10.3 seconds, helped along by a very brisk wind.
The crowd watching Leserwane was multiracial and about evenly divided between black and white. The whites sat in a small grandstand at the finish lines, and the blacks crowded against the wire fences on either side of the stands, perched on the sloped green turf which makes a shallow bowl of the stadium. All of the officials at Potchefstroom and Libanon were white.
Aside from speed afoot, Nash and Leserwane share one other thing: both are bitterly disappointed by the recent action of the International Olympic Committee which denied them a chance to compete in Mexico City. Said Leserwane, very softly, after his victory, "I was the sahddest mahn in Ahfrica when I heard the news. All of the strength left my legs and the heart went out of me. But it is not so bahd for me as for some of the others. I am a young mahn of 21 years, and I will still be in my prime in 1972, if we are admitted then. I have done 46.9 in the 400 meters, and I am sure to do much better, so I will keep trying and hoping. But I am very sorry for a mahn like Humphrey Khosi. He has no more chahnce."
Nash was neither as articulate nor as friendly as Leserwane. In recent months he has four times tied the world record of 10 seconds flat in the 100 meters (three times with the assistance of a following wind), but a pulled muscle hampered his training before this meeting.
"I don't have to apologize for a 10.2," he said. "I lost my edge when my training went off after the injury."
"What was your reaction to the rejection of South Africa by the IOC?" he was asked.
"No political questions," he said angrily.
"Had you looked forward to competing with the American sprinters in Mexico City?"
"I don't look forward to competing with anyone," he said. "A competitor is just a competitor to me. I expect to beat them all, but if one beats me on a certain day he's the better man on that day and that's that." He slipped a sweater over a T shirt with " UCLA Bruins" on the front, a souvenir of a trip to the U.S.