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For high drama and record-breaking performance, for heart-warming victory and heartbreaking defeat, for youthful camaraderie and for the bottomless enthusiasm of Australia's sporting public, the Melbourne Olympics already belong among the most memorable of modern times. Russia and the U.S., the behemoths of sport, have met in heralded conflict in the main stadium—a conflict in which the Bear was outdistanced and the U.S. track and field team proved the greatest of all time. Each has produced a hero worthy of Nurmi and Owens and Z�topek: the distance runner Vladimir Kuts who made the crowds gasp, "How can he keep it up?" and the Texas sprinter Bobby Morrow who made them yell, "Watch him go!" With the last third of the Games (soccer, swimming, cycling, Greco-Roman wrestling, etc.) still to be held, it was evident all attendance records would be smashed. By last Saturday, 1,500,000 people had paid to see the XVI Olympiad.
The great Melbourne Cricket Ground has been jammed, even in the morning during qualifying events (stadiums at Berlin, London, Los Angeles and Helsinki were often only partially filled). Dollar-and-a-half tickets for swimming events have been scalped for $15, preliminary soccer games have drawn mobs of 20,000, and boxing and basketball have played to packed houses. An exhibition of baseball drew 80,000 people—whose knowledge of the game was revealed by the way they cheered high fouls—but who stayed nevertheless until the last man was out. This response must be attributed in part to Australia's national mania for sport—any sport—but the Melbourne Games are proving eminently worthy of such passion.
Conditions at Melbourne during the greater part of eight days of track and field competitions must be summed up as "Weather execrable, track slow." It was cold. It was windy. The red brick dust of the track had a tendency to loosen under the impact of spikes. But five world records fell. Olympic records were broken in 17 of the 24 men's track and field events and another was tied. And in event after event there were moments of indelible drama which will doubtless be discussed through the lifetimes of the crowds and athletes who witnessed them.
Few Olympiads have produced such a swift and crushing demonstration of superiority as the U.S. sweep in the high hurdles—with Lee Quincy Calhoun first and World Record Holder Jack Davis second in a photo finish, and Joel Shankle third. Few have seen such a finish as Fordham's big Tom Courtney produced in the agonizing 800-meter run; though completely exhausted and apparently beaten by England's Derek Johnson, he managed one awesome final burst in the last 30 yards and tumbled over the line—so exhausted that he was almost speechless and virtually paralyzed for an hour—the winner. There was Alain Mimoun, a spindly, mustachioed Frenchman—beaten in two Olympiads by the great Z�topek—prancing home first in the 1956 marathon and listening at last to the band play La Marseillaise. And there was big Milt Campbell who beat UCLA's Rafer Johnson and broke Bob Mathias' old decathlon record.
The Melbourne 1,500 meters (the metric mile) was in many ways one of the most remarkable and, certainly, one of the most breathlessly contemplated distance runs in Olympic history. The greatest field of milers ever to assemble were on hand at the start. Hungary's 1,500-meter world record holder, Istv�n R�zsav�lgyi, it is true, had failed to qualify, and Australia's national hero, John Landy, went to the post after weeks of fighting off the pain of inflamed leg tendons. But of the field, 5 had run the mile under four minutes.
Landy stayed back in the pack the first time since setting the world's mile record in Finland two years ago. So, as he has always done, did the ultimate winner, Ireland's tall, soft-spoken Ron Delany. The 21-year-old Irishman—a student at Villanova University—has a curious, bobbing style, detests competition with the clock and habitually runs "only fast enough to win." This undramatic habit earned him the boos of Madison Square Garden track fans at indoor meets last winter, but last week Ron Delany ran fast enough to please the most critical. The Olympic field swept along at a tremendous pace with Australia's Merv Lincoln, Germany's Klaus Richtzenhain and England's Brian Hewson and Ian Boyd up front—the time was 2:02 at the half—and the Irishman stayed close to the pack.
The runners were still on the last turn in the final lap when he made his sudden bid. Delany had wonderful acceleration—he was four yards ahead a hundred yards from home. And he had strength—try as they might, none of the great field could claw up to him as he ran—and ran—and ran for the tape. John Landy, looking, in the words of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S correspondent Roger Bannister, "astounded at his own performance," made a gallant try at it, but it was the Irishman's day. His time was but six-tenths of a second off the world record. It was Richtzenhain second with Landy running at his shoulder, third.
There were a great many memorable moments of conflict off the track as well: Yale winning the eight-oared rowing championship, U.S. Heavyweight Boxer Pete Rademacher belting Russia's Lev Moukhine out in the final, and the U.S. basketball team making monkeys (89-55) of the Russians in the last gold medal game.
It would be hard to find two more dissimilar individuals. In fact, it would take a Kipling or an Olympic Games to bring them face to face. They come indeed from opposite ends of the earth—Kuts from a small town named Sumskaya in the vast wheat fields of the Ukraine, Morrow from a small town named San Benito in the fertile cotton lands of Texas. Kuts is 29, a career officer in the Soviet navy; Morrow is 21, a college student who wants to be a farmer. Kuts is short and solid and as sturdy as a fencepost, endowed with heavy muscular legs and big barrel chest. He has a peasant's face which becomes red and contorted and agonized when he runs, and his long yellow hair bounces up and down as if to keep time with the relentless machinelike stride. Morrow is tall and shaped like a wedge, with patrician features and long rippling muscles. When he runs it is all grace and beauty, and from a distance the close-cropped brown head floats so smoothly down the track that it would seem to be detached from his body.