logical man, as befits his position as an electrical engineer, Newhouse offered
some thoughts on how the U.S. black athletes responded to the African boycott.
"Those countries are doing a trial and error thing," he said,
"figuring just what they can use for leverage in the world. I can
understand that, but if you were going to boycott, why not do France, which
just sold nuclear weapons to South Africa? No, they are not going to upset
economic things. Only in sport do they figure they haven't got that much to
lose. I didn't meet an African runner who wasn't saddened." Newhouse
considered the case of James Gilkes, the sprinter from Guyana who petitioned
the IOC to permit him to stay on as an individual competitor after his team
departed. The IOC said no way. "That was the true test of the International
Olympic Committee's spirit of free competition," Newhouse said. "It
The victims of
that failure were the athletes—all of them—although the suffering of the
Africans was more apparent. "We had four hours' notice to pack and
leave," said Ethiopian miler Hailu Ebba. "I was so confused, I couldn't
believe it was happening. When I understood that it was, it was like a cold
thing running through my body, a pain and an anger."
will be paying for the boycott for years. "We depend on Olympic results to
get invitations to race overseas," said Ebba. "We are at altitude, with
no facilities. Only in the Olympics can we show how we can run." Now such
names as Mohammed Kedir, Eshetu Tura and Gebrie Gurmu will remain strange to
the world. Gurmu is a marathoner, Tura a steeplechaser. Both could have won
medals. And Kedir? At 7:30 one morning before the Games opened, he ran a time
trial over 10,000 meters. His 27:40 was virtually identical to Lasse Viren's
winning time in that event. Ebba himself felt ready for a 3:52 mile. "I am
not going to any more Olympics," he said. "I will try for medical
school." During the early days of the meet Ebba sat with another tourist,
Mike Boit of Kenya, a co-favorite in the 800 before the boycott and a quiet,
intelligent man, given to self-effacement and long, delicately turned stories.
Bluntly, still smoldering, he said, "I want to break the world record now.
I know I can."
The absence of
Tanzania's Filbert Bayi and Boit from the 1,500 turned what once appeared to be
the feature race of the Games into a 300-meter dash after a 1,200-meter warmup.
John Walker of New Zealand won, as he was supposed to, but in 3:39.17, a tenth
of a second ahead of a fast-closing Ivo Van Damme of Belgium, and 2.3 seconds
slower than his time in the first qualifying round. A weary Rick Wohlhuter was
sixth in 3:40.64.
"I had three
plans to choose from," said Walker afterward. "To go to the front and
make it hard and fast all the way, to go with 500 left or to sit and kick as I
did." It seemed as if Walker chose the latter almost in defiance of the
field, matching his finish against some very fast men. "I decided to take a
gamble and wait and hope. I was running against virtually all half-mile
kickers. Everybody had a chance today."
The early pace was
a feeble 62.48 for 400 meters, with Walker buried in the pack. Eamonn Coghlan
of Ireland and Villanova led at 800 in 2:03.15, and with a lap to go Walker was
poised at his shoulder. Past 1,200 in 3:01.23. Walker leaped ahead with Van
Damme giving furious pursuit all the way. Coghlan had a chance to place until
the last yards, but appeared to misjudge the finish, leaning too soon, and lost
the bronze to Paul-Heinz Wellmann of West Germany.
unapologetic for the slow time. "Time simply is not important," he
said. "Winning the gold medal is, because even the world record is here
today, gone tomorrow." For some time it seemed as if Walker would be in the
doping test until tomorrow. Finally he emerged with a specimen, which the New
Zealand press duly photographed. "That was harder than the running," he
said. "Took me five beers."
women's 1,500 was also a less than satisfying tactical race. Jan Merrill had
ripped 4.6 seconds from the American record with a 4:02.61 in her semifinal,
but in the final she was eighth, prey to a flock of half-milers. The race was
won in 4:05.48 by the U.S.S.R.'s Tatyana Kazankina, the world-record holder,
who ran hard only in the last 80 meters, shooting ahead of the field at will,
just as she had done in the 800. In the shorter race, led by Svetlana Strykina
of the Soviet Union and Anita Weiss of East Germany, the runners revolutionized
the women's 800 with a 55-second first lap. Kazankina was unaffected and won in
1:54.94, a world record by more than a second. She looked as if she could have
sprinted another 200 yards.
records were set in the javelin and steeplechase by popular men from small
countries. Miklos Nemeth of Hungary, son of the 1948 Olympic hammer-throw
champion, lofted the javelin 310'4" on his first attempt; the steeple was
one of those races that will haunt Olympic memories, both for the last-lap
drive of Sweden's Anders Garderud, which carried him to a record 8:08.02, and
for a lingering wonder over what might have been. With a lap remaining, three
men had a chance to win, as Poland's Bronislaw Malinowski led East Germany's
Frank Baumgartl and Garderud. Garderud, a 3:54.5 miler, blew ahead on the
backstretch but couldn't break away. On the last water jump Baumgartl lost a
step, then made it up with a rush that looked strong enough to carry him to the
gold medal, 70 meters away. One hurdle remained. Garderud and Baumgartl chopped
their stride approaching it. Garderud cleared, but Baumgartl caught the
200-pound barrier with his trailing leg and pitched onto the track, becoming
one more hurdle for Malinowski, who soared over him and ran on to the silver.
Baumgartl scrambled up and saved third. A tender 21, he must be the early
favorite for Moscow. The lone American in the final, Henry Marsh of BYU, ran
8:23.99, a time that would have been second to Kip Keino in Munich. In Montreal
it got Marsh 10th.
In the long jump,
the event of Jesse Owens, Ralph Boston and Bob Beamon, American strength held
up, and Arnie Robinson of San Diego won easily. A 9.5 sprinter and 6'10"
high jumper, Robinson put speed and lift together on his first jump to get out
27'4�" and, indeed, had four of the best five jumps of the day. Randy
Williams, the Munich champion, captured the silver medal (26'7�"), and the
U.S. might have had a sweep but for one of Larry Myricks' warmup jumps. "I
heard a snap, like a shoestring breaking, when he took that little pop-up,"
said Williams. When Myricks came down, it was upon a broken ankle. (In the
other horizontal jump, the triple, James Butts of Los Angeles got the silver
medal, Victor Saneyev of the U.S.S.R. winning for the third straight Olympics
with a leap of 56'8�".)