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William F. Reed
April 12, 1971
Bill Toomey says it's kind of tragic, being the best decathlete in the world and (sob!) not being allowed to compete
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April 12, 1971

The Ineligible Married Man

Bill Toomey says it's kind of tragic, being the best decathlete in the world and (sob!) not being allowed to compete

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"The next morning I had to get up at 4:30 to answer the makeup call. Another decathlete friend, Louie Jourdan, drove me to the studio. All the way down I'm practicing my lines. We go to the studio and all of a sudden they started barbering my hair off. I haven't got that much hair, folks, so I inquired how much more they were going to cut off. They told me I had to look like an agent. What's J. Edgar Hoover look like? I never saw the guy. He's a roommate of Howard Hughes. I went to the studio. They said, hey, man, you didn't get your hair cut. You're kidding, I said, they obliterated my hair. I had to get more hair cut off. The floor of the barbershop looked like there had been a big fight between a couple of bears.

"Finally it was time to roll 'em. Then they threw me a curve. My last line, instead of ending with 'they spend most of their time in the mountains hunting and fishing' was changed to '...hunting and trapping.' At that particular time it was a complete devastation of my mind. I had to learn my lines all over again. All the cats in there are coming up to me:

" 'Hey, you're Bill Toomey, aren't you?'

" '...hunting and trapping, hunting and trapping....'

" 'How're ya doing, Bill?'

" '...hunting and trapping, hunting and trapping....'

"The director was a very hang-loose guy, which was good. So here I was finally, digging the whole scene, and he said, 'O.K., Toomey, start your lines.' All of a sudden it was cold turkey. I forgot my lines. I said, 'Hey, what's my lines?' Everybody cracked up. On the decathlon scale, I fouled out."

Throughout all his ventures, Toomey manages to find time for training. "I'm not sure why I keep working out," he says, "unless I'm following through with the neurosis that pushed me to an Olympic victory. After the Olympics, I kept telling everyone that I wasn't going to run track anymore. But the funny thing was, I always had a track suit packed in the back of my car. I'm like an alcoholic, you know, who had one hidden everywhere: one in the closet, one in the car, one in the beach house. One side of me would say: 'Hey, Bill, you're not going to run today, are you? When are you going to grow up and give up track?' Then the other side: 'But what about that track suit out in the car? It's clean, you know, and just think, you can break out that shirt with the block Olympic rings on it.' I can work out anywhere. Anyplace where I can move my legs four times in succession is a place to work out.

"Once Ron Whitney, the 400-meter hurdler, and I warmed up for a relay in a parking lot in Mexico City. I would run from the Mercury to the Lincoln and back to the Volkswagen. Another time I put up a bar across my bathroom door so I could practice pole-vaulting technique. Except the damn thing busted and I went into the toilet."

Toomey gets letters or calls from decathletes around the world who want to come to Santa Barbara. Many of them still believe he is an amateur and they want to know if he has started training for the '72 Olympics. Whether he is eligible or not, Toomey keeps working out, just in case, and he is still a keen student of the decathlon, so he encourages everyone to join him.

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