SI Vault
Bob Ottum
September 02, 1968
A throng of young, attractive girls raced into Southern California for the women's Olympic track and field trials and after two days of lively effort produced the strongest U.S. women's team ever
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 02, 1968

Dolls On The Move To Mexico

A throng of young, attractive girls raced into Southern California for the women's Olympic track and field trials and after two days of lively effort produced the strongest U.S. women's team ever

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3

"I felt the reaction of the crowd and I tried a bit harder," she said, standing easily in the infield, still nicely coiffed and gesturing with long, slender hands, "but I don't think I used the right technique. Next time I'll do better."

Then it was the 200-meter dash, that crusher in which a girl must forget everything pretty and just plain run, and here came another new 1968 face. Out of nowhere—well, from out of Eugene, Ore.—came Margaret Bailes, who is only 17 and still able to get excited about such things as Disneyland ("I went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and I just loved Snow White's castle," she said). Margaret came flying through the tape in 23.5, leaving Wyomia Tyus, the 100-meter winner at Tokyo, and Barbara Ferrell, both clocked in 23.7, well behind, though all three were under the Olympic qualifying time of 24 flat.

"Margaret is not sure yet just what she can do," said her coach, Wendy Jerome. The delighted Miss Jerome had just tied the world's record for the standing jump-up-and-down-a-lot. "I don't think she even realizes yet what she has done. It is still coming slowly to her."

"Well," said Margaret, with newfound poise, "a lot of people have been telling me that I should make the Olympics. I finally sort of found myself here."

Meanwhile, off to one side of all that excitement, Shotputter Seidler had changed into her competition earrings ("They're little round silver ones, like little shots, actually," she said) and was beating everybody in sight. She won easily with a toss of 50'1�" It is not an Olympic qualifying mark—the Olympic standard is 52 feet and the world record is 61 feet—but do not worry about that. Miss Seidler is 17, too, and gaining strength. She also has been in international competition before and knows what it is all about. "When I was in Mexico for the Little Olympics last October," she said, "those big women came out and psyched me something terrible. They were all about 10 years older than me and they came around in those huge trench coats and just sort of looked at me. I sat there and trembled. But not anymore. Now I know what I can do, and I'll beat them yet."

And there still were a couple of kids to come. As the meet moved over to Sunday and the sun sank on the oldtimers, one lanky 16-year-old and a 15-year-old sprite—who stands just a little bit higher than a starting block—made the team.

First, Sharon Callahan, who stands, oh, say, 6'1", won the high jump, clearing 5'7�", which happens to be the Olympic standard for big girls. She will be joined on the team by Eleanor Montgomery and Estelle Baskerville, who bettered the qualifying mark earlier.

Along came the 400-meter finals. Jarvis Scott beat everybody, with Lois Drinkwater close behind. Then scurrying along with them, only .3 second farther back, came this little critter, Esther Stroy. Clocking a qualifying 54.3, she became a mini-Olympian and one of the fastest 15-year-olds anywhere.

Of course, everyone wasn't 15. Olga Connolly, 12 years after her discus gold medal in Melbourne, was the only qualifier in the discus, and Barbara Friedrich was all alone in the javelin. On Saturday, Martha Watson and Willye White had leaped 21'�" and 21' fiat, respectively, in the long jump, which should make the kids and the rest of the world sit up and pay attention. And there was a final moment of triumph for Wyomia Tyus. In the 100-meter final she lined up at the start, loosening up and humming to herself. Was she worried about Bailes, that new flash? "I never think about anybody," she said. "I let them think about me."

That's the Olympic stuff, Wyomia. She burst away from the field, led Margaret Bailes all the way and, for an extra little touch, finished with a spectacular belly flop right across the line. "I leaned like I always do, and I couldn't get my balance back," she said. No matter, she can work on that in Mexico.

Continue Story
1 2 3