Elegance and Artistry at Olympia
The Greeks were forever finding beauty in sport, and the concept is far from a dead one. No sight at Rome was quite as memorable as that of Wilma Rudolph, whose willowy strides earned three gold medals and made her the toast of the Olympics. The same grace led Peggy Fleming (flanked at right by runners-up) to victory at Grenoble as her skating bridged the gap between artistry and athletics. Eight months later Debbie Meyer, one of America's child swimmers, dived into a Mexico City pool and splashed out with as much gold as Wilma.
The Victors Left Behind The Vanquished
Of all champions of the decade, perhaps Ron Clarke was the best one never to achieve the ultimate—a gold medal, in his case. Australians wept as he finished the 10,000 at Mexico City badly beaten. It was somehow appropriate that he collapsed then, for moments giving fear that he had tried much too hard. By contrast, challengers for the America's Cup were routed so predictably that the face of defeat—expressed above by "Sovereign" Skipper Peter Scott—was more chagrin than pain.
The balance of power shifts quickly. The Ohio State of Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek and Larry Siegfried was unbeatable until Cincinnati did the beating in the 1961 NCAA finals, causing Siegfried to hide in a towel. For the Giants, perennial champions in the NFL East, the end was reflected by this scene in 1964 when the Steelers left 37-year-old Y.A. Tittle bloody and bowed. A week earlier another sign of the Giant times had passed without due note: the Jets played their first game in Shea Stadium.
For Jean-Claude the Gates Flew Open
The snowball just kept rolling, and soon a whole social movement was pulling on sport's sexiest clothes and sipping rum around the chalet bar. To satisfy the demand, American know-how came up with carved mountains, fake snow and quick-setting plaster. But only God can make a ski hero, and the U.S. was never graced. It was a dashing Frenchman, Jean-Claude Killy, who burst down the slopes, slashed between the gates and whirled to a stop, resplendent heir to a new way of outdoor life.
Raising the Voice of Protest
It was not left to sport to survive serene in a decade of turmoil. This could not have been expected, and might not have been proper. The malaise of the times showed itself on the playing fields, and sports faced up to dissent when Professor Harry Edwards (right) introduced a scheme for an Olympic boycott by black athletes. "If nobody plays, everybody is equal," he said.
The boycott at Mexico City failed, but it led to the not-soon-forgotten Olympic posture of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who acknowledged "The Star-Spangled Banner" with a Black Power salute. Heavyweight gold-medal winner George Foreman answered with the flag, but by this year's end there were more and more confrontations, and more and more picket signs.
Biggest Winner; Biggest Loser
Johnny Longden waved his last salute at 59, going out (above) with winner 6,032, an alltime record. But for many fans only one of Longden's victories really counted-his lone Kentucky Derby win, on Count Fleet in 1943. For millions the Derby is horse racing; the rest is Grapefruit League. Because of this the moment at right, Dancer's Image finishing in the 1968 Derby, was especially meaningful. The Dancer was alone and flying high—far too high, said the stewards, who ruled he had been drugged. Investigations that followed were a mishmash of deceit, and the sport was the real loser.
The Face Is Familiar