"I'm very surprised," Beyer said later. "At this time I didn't think I could set a world record. I didn't think I ever could again. I couldn't have done it without Laut. You know we are good friends. He's happy when I win, and I'm happy when he wins...but I'm happier when I win."
Beyer is 6'4¼" and 286 pounds, and a pound of that must be the great gold structure that holds his teeth together. He is a student at a Leipzig sports institute. "But I don't want to become a coach," he said. "I don't think a good athlete necessarily makes a good coach. I would like to do research."
Beyer imagines that his shotputting days will end after the Olympics. "I have a little daughter, Katja, who's four," he said, "and I want to give more attention to her and my wife, who is a very good cook of Thuringian food—lots of potato dumplings, lots of butter in everything. Diet? Not for me. Diet is something you can't eat."
As he stood bemused, towering above a crush of newsmen, he offered his opinions about the venue and the coming Games. "The spectators were very good. They didn't just applaud the Americans. I have seen much worse—in Moscow, for instance. But no, this winning isn't a psychological advantage for the Olympics. Every competition is new. Laut can win next year. His technique is better than mine. He's very fast. I tried his spin technique once, and the result was this operation here on my right hand to repair a torn ligament. I'm old . He's young [actually, just a year younger]. But maybe this performance will help me against him in the World Championships in Helsinki in six weeks."
A similar struggle took place in the men's javelin. Detlef Michel of East Germany had thrown 317'4" on June 8, which would have tied the world record had Tom Petranoff of the U.S. not thrown his amazing 327'2" in May. Michel clearly was after Petranoff's scalp in Los Angeles. His warm-up throws were going more than 280 feet.
Petranoff led off with 266'9". "A nervous throw," said his coach, Bill Webb.
Michel took little tippytoe steps down the runway, then flew into a catlike leap and threw with a scream. His yellow javelin sailed through awed murmurs to land at 302'1".
Petranoff came back with a 290'3" and then a terrible foul. "He started his arm through before his foot was even down and planted," said Webb. "He's trying to make it happen instead of letting it happen." Petranoff knew this full well. He jogged and calmed himself while Rod Ewaliko of the U.S. put him into third with a 290'4".
That was temporary. After Michel fouled, Petranoff the record holder became Petranoff the competitor. He let his left leg and torso come into the throwing position, snapping their force into his arm as it brought the spear through. "He caught that one," said Webb, in relief, as the javelin struck the turf at 310'5". That was the winning throw.
The most heralded match was among the women sprinters. Marlies Göhr, who had improved her 100-meter world record to 10.81 two weeks before in East Berlin, and Marita Koch, the 200 and 400 world-record holder who had chased Göhr with a 10.83, were invading the lair of Evelyn Ashford, who had beaten them both in the World Cup in 1979. But Ashford wasn't too comfortable in her lair, finding the track soft. "It's just too new," she said. "But that's no excuse for what I did."