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Going All Out And Way, Way Up
Kenny Moore
March 01, 1982
Two runners and a pair of jumpers established records in San Diego
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March 01, 1982

Going All Out And Way, Way Up

Two runners and a pair of jumpers established records in San Diego

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Ah, greed. It was a luxury denied the male milers, four of whom had broken 3:50 outdoors. No matter what the pace, the field was so strong and deep that a close race was inevitable. And so as Steve Scott passed the three-quarters in 2:56.5, he was closely stalked, in order, by Tom Byers, Walker and Ray Flynn. Scott was vulnerable because he alone had followed the erratic pace set by rabbit Eddie Davis through quarters of 56.7 and 61.5 before taking the lead with a 58.3. Byers had started slower, caught up when the pace dropped and, with four laps to go, had Walker boxed on the inside. Walker, the first man ever to break 3:50, which he did with 3:49.4 in 1975, is now 30 and, for the first time since 1976, free of leg injuries. He was drawn and tan from hard training in the New Zealand summer. Now he dropped back out of Byers' box. Byers, thinking Walker was out of contention, moved to the inside behind Scott. Walker then came on with two laps left, boxing Byers. With a lap left. Walker exploded into the lead, sealing Byers against the rail until he had passed. Walker hit the tape in 3:52.8, the season's fastest time. Byers ran 3:53.6 in second, Flynn 3:54.1 in third and Scott a weary 3:55.0 in fourth. "It was one of those races," said Scott's coach, Len Miller, "when you have to be proud of your own effort and be happy for the other guy."

Walker was plenty happy for Walker. "This was the sixth time I've run here," he said, "and the first time I've won. I surprised them. I don't finish like that very often. I even surprised me."

As Walker was saying those words, there was another great roar. For the third time this year Billy Olson had broken the world indoor record in the pole vault, this time adding a quarter of an inch to make 18'9�". "The takeoff was smooth, the transition was smooth," said Olson, who affects a remarkably offhand manner about these deeds. "I knew I'd get up and over if I didn't fall apart."

Olson's three tries at 19'�" were all close and, to observers standing near the pit, were a study in abrupt transitions, from the breakneck abandon of his sprint down the runway, to the violent jolt of the pole slamming into the box, to the sinking bend of the implement, to the slingshot ascent, to the long, soft—and on these occasions, unhappy—fall. It seemed a marvel that Olson could emerge from this complex sequence always the down-home explainer of simple details. "It went well this evening because we [ Olson and Pacific Coast Club teammate Earl Bell] came out in the afternoon and worked with the carpenters to build a little extension of the runway so I could start out on the track," he said. "Once I had made the right adjustments [indeed, he had badly missed his first two tries at 18 feet], it was just a question of how fast I could run down this hard ol' ramp."

At 19 feet it wasn't quite fast enough. "Those attempts at the end were good for the way I felt" said Olson as he cleaned stickum from his hands with lighter fluid. "Didn't feel I could do 16 on the runway, but the crowd got me going. You have to really give this house credit. They deserved everything they saw tonight."

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