OTHER RED THREATS
There were also several other Russian performers at the European Championships who now might well become the best in the world. The most impressive was Ardalion Ignatyev, who won the 400 meters in the excellent time of :46.6?the fastest in the world this year around two turns. He is also an excellent sprinter. Filin, the little man who lost the marathon when he ran the wrong way around the track, could well be the winner at Melbourne. At any rate, he held a 50-yard lead on Karvonen of Finland, winner of this year's Boston Marathon, before he made his wrong turn.
The injured Vladimir Kazantsev was regarded as the world's finest 3,000-meter steeplechase runner before he was defeated by Horace Ashenfelter at Helsinki. Still young, he continues to improve.
There were others at Bern who helped give the team great depth: Vladimir Bagreyev has run the equivalent of a 4:05.6 mile; Gregory Basalayev did a remarkable 10,000 meters in 29:45.4; Viktor Kurchavov was close to record time for the 3,000-meter steeplechase with 8:49.0; Yevgeniy Bulanchik, fourth in the last Olympics, won the 110-meter hurdles at Bern in :14.4; Dencsenko has pole-vaulted 14 feet 6 inches; Otto Grigalka put the shot 56 feet 4 inches; and Vladimir Kuznetsov has a fine javelin throw of 256 feet 6? inches to his credit.
With all this strength, Russia would probably not be favored to beat the Americans were it not for the help it undoubtedly will get from other nations. Practically every other country in the world is now turning out its finest athletes in history. In 1949 and 1952, Mai Whitfield, now probably past his peak, dominated the world at 800 meters, but in Bern no less than five European athletes ran the distance faster than Mai has ever covered it.
Our best javelin thrower, Bud Held, seems to be far off form. A 21-year-old Polish athlete, Janusz Sidlo, who has thrown the javelin 259 feet 3? inches appears to have the greatest potential in this event.
In the 1,500 meters our only hope is Wes Santee. Yet, who would establish him as the favorite over John Landy or Roger Bannister? While Wes could well be the greatest of all time, he faces Marine service prior to the games, and at this time no one can say whether he will get an opportunity to prepare himself for the midwinter Olympics as will his opponents.
Even in events where America has had phenomenal success in the past, we now cannot be so sure of victory. In Ernie Shelton we may have the next world record holder in the high jump. But Ernie himself has said that 20-year-old Bengt Nilsson of Sweden, who jumped 6 ft. 11 in. in September, may well be the first to reach 7 ft.?the "ultimate" in high jumping.
One of our biggest surprises may come in the sprints. Heinz Futterer of Germany is the finest sprinter ever to come out of Europe and the German sprint relay team has posted times only 3/10 ths of a second behind the winning U.S. time in the 1952 Games.
We, on the other hand, will be preparing for the 16th Olympiad in Australia with fewer gold medal prospects than we have had in many years, and the chance of our repeating the 1952 total of 14 winners in men's track and field events is exceedingly remote.