When Kuts wins, the great mask which protects him from the outside world is gone and he capers joyously around the stadium, clasping both hands over his head like a victorious fighter, waving gaily to the crowd, his big tough features split into a wonderfully happy and infectious grin. When Morrow wins he grins too, but it is a quick flashing thing, and then he jogs off to put on his sweatsuit, pick up his starting blocks and disappear until the next race.
Yet they are alike too, for there is a quality somewhere inside that joins the two together as brothers in a very special fraternity of superathletes. Without it neither could have accomplished what he did at Melbourne. It is not sheer physical ability, for this is common coin at an Olympic Games; it is instead great determination and a tremendous will to win that seems to rise higher and higher with every heightening of opposition and nervous pressure.
It is a measure of the quality of both that Vladimir Kuts and Bobby Morrow are double Olympic champions. Over a soft track Kuts set Olympic records in both his 5,000- and 10,000-meter victories and, in so doing, killed off the finest group of distance men the Olympics has ever seen. On this same slow track and running into a stiff breeze, Morrow twice tied the Olympic record for 100 meters, broke the Olympic record for 200 meters and ran a sizzling anchor leg on the U.S. 400-meter relay team which set a world record and earned Bobby a third gold medal. It was time for Jesse Owens to move over and share his pedestal with another.
Despite his brilliant 10,000-meter victory on the opening day (SI, Dec. 3) not many believed that Kuts would win the 5,000 as well. His opposition was much stronger last week: four-minute milers like the Englishmen Chris Chat-away and Derek Ibbotson, Hungarian L�szl� T�bori, Gordon Pirie, another Britisher, who holds the world record for this distance, Jerzy Chromik of Poland, Mikl�s Szab� of Hungary, the German veteran Herbert Schade, the Yugoslav Velisa Mugosa and a lot of others. Kuts had run that very hard 10,000 on Friday and a heat of the 5,000 on Monday, and now it was only Wednesday. It seemed highly unlikely that he could do it again.
But, as it developed, there was a great deal of resemblance between the two races. In each Kuts took over the lead in the first few score strides. In Wednesday's 5,000, Hungary's T�bori had the effrontery to move ahead for about five seconds on the second lap. Otherwise the two races were almost identically run. Last week, however, Kuts discovered he had to contend with England's Chataway and Ibbotson as well as Gordon Pirie. On the eighth lap, when for the first time he began to kick up the pace, only these three stayed with him.
By now, however, the fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground knew that the contorted features and labored look didn't mean that Kuts was in trouble; they knew this was only his way of showing how much he was enjoying himself—and that it meant trouble for others. The Russian won by about 80 yards and was waving to the fans when Pirie outkicked Ibbotson in the stretch to finish second and win the silver medal he had thrown away on Friday with his valiant bid to race Kuts all the way. Vladimir's time was 13 minutes 39.6 seconds, which matched his own mark for the second fastest 5,000 meters ever run ( Pirie's record is 13:36.8), and on this track, according to Pirie, was equal to 13:30 under good conditions.
Morrow, too, won his second race with ease—but not without enduring hours of horrible trepidation. Even though 200 meters is his best distance and though he is a magnificent curve runner, he developed butterflies in the stomach. "I kept seeing that second gold medal," he said, "and I couldn't even sleep." He was shaking so badly at the start that he almost fell off his starting blocks. But he started well, and once the runners had come out of the curve, Morrow was ahead of everyone—including the U.S.'s Andy Stanfield and Thane Baker, who had finished in one-two order at Helsinki.
"We all came out of the curve about even," said husky little Mike Agostini of Trinidad in the dressing room, "with Stanfield maybe a foot or so ahead. I thought, now we'll find out who's got it. We found out all right. That doggone Morrow just went zoom and the race was over."
Morrow's time was 20.6, a 10th of a second under the Olympic record held jointly by Stanfield and Owens and equal to the best ever run around a curve. Stanfield was second and Baker third. It was a magnificent time for such a track.
The 400-meter relay was frosting on Bobby's cake. Despite one poor baton pass, his teammates, Ira Murchison, Leamon King and Baker, gave him a two-yard lead over Russia, and by the time Morrow hit the tape the gap had widened to four. The sizzling time—39.5 seconds—broke a world and Olympic record which had endured for 20 years.