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HUNGARY BECOMES A GREAT POWER—IN TRACK
David Mayer
November 21, 1955
Here is a satellite that shines brighter than the Soviet sun and which may eclipse the Russians at the 1956 Olympics. An SI writer who saw the Hungarians compete in Moscow and Warsaw reports on their startling performances: eight world records and a four-minute mile, just since May!
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November 21, 1955

Hungary Becomes A Great Power—in Track

Here is a satellite that shines brighter than the Soviet sun and which may eclipse the Russians at the 1956 Olympics. An SI writer who saw the Hungarians compete in Moscow and Warsaw reports on their startling performances: eight world records and a four-minute mile, just since May!

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THE HUNGARIAN ASSAULT

WORLD RECORDS AS OF MAY 1

1,000 m.

2:19.5

Boysen

Norway

1,500 m.

3:41.8

Landy

Australia

1 mile

3:58

Landy

Australia

2,000 m.

5:07

Reiff

Belgium

3,000 m.

7:58.8

Reiff

Belgium

2 miles

8:40.4

Reiff

Belgium

3 miles

13:26.4

Kuc

U.S.S.R.

5,000 m.

13:51.2

Kuc

U.S.S.R.

6,000 m.

15:21.2

(Relay)

Hungary

WORLD RECORDS AS OF NOV. 1

1,000 m.

2:19

Boysen

Norway

Rozsavolgyi

Hungary

1,500 m.

3:40 8

Iharos

Hungary

Tabori

Hungary

1 mile*

3:58

Landy

Australia

2,000 m.

5:02.2

Rozsavolgyi

Hungary

3,000 m.

7:55.6

Iharos

Hungary

2 miles

8:33.4

Iharos

Hungary

3 miles

13:14.2

Iharos

Hungary

5,000 m.

13:40.6

Iharos

Hungary

6,000 m.

15:14.8

(Relay)

Hungary

*0n May 28 Tabori, Hungary, ran the mile in 3:59.

The jubilant men in track-and-field uniform on the opposite page are the two greatest runners in the world today. They are Hungarians. Their names, which you will be hearing more and more in the next 12 months as the world prepares for the 1956 Olympics, are Sandor Iharos and Laszlo Tabori.

Little more than a year and a half ago, at about the time Roger Bannister was running the first four-minute mile, Iharos and Tabori were nothing more than a couple of good Hungarian runners. No one, aside from dedicated track buffs, had ever heard of them.

Then, through the curious alchemy that sometimes results from a mixture of superb natural ability and precise training, their talent for running jelled into genius, and with Teammate Istvan Rozsavolgyi, who is almost as good, they set off on the most remarkable pageant of record breaking in the history of track-and-field athletics.

Today Iharos holds the world record for five different distances: 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters, two miles, three miles and 5,000 meters. Tabori has run a 3:59 mile (the first since Bannister and Landy) and is co-holder with Iharos of the world record at 1,500 meters. Rozsavolgyi holds the world record at 2,000 meters and is co-holder of the 1,000-meter record. A relay team consisting of these three and Ferenc Mikes holds the world record for the 6,000-meter (4 x 1,500) relay.

And it all happened this year.

On the first day of May, if you had been musing over the world-record tables in track, you would have found only one that had been established by Hungarians—in the 6,000-meter relay. But that was back in May. Now, in November...

Iharos started the Hungarian ball rolling on May 14 in Budapest. The sad-eyed, sharp-featured, 25-year-old army captain clipped off 3,000 meters in 7:55.6, more than three seconds below the record set six years ago by Belgium's great Gaston Reiff.

Then, on May 27, Iharos and his shorter, stockier, curly-haired friend, Tabori, flew into London for the annual British Games at White City Stadium. The flight from Budapest had made them both airsick. As a result Iharos decided not to run in the mile race the next day, although Tabori decided he would.

Iharos' absence bitterly disappointed the crowd of 40,000. They had anticipated an exciting race between the Hungarian star—who had set a European record in the 1,500-meter the previous summer—and England's favorites, the doughty Chris Chataway and youthful Brian Hewson. Tabori was at that time only the third-ranking 1,500-meter man in Hungary and had hardly ever run the mile before. ("I know only vaguely what the mile distance is," he said later, after the race.)

On top of everything else it had rained hard the night before, and the track seemed slow. The English crowd grumbled. What they had expected to be the big race of the games would probably be the big disappointment.

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