JUST BEFORE THE
In Melbourne it
was difficult to realize that world tension had threatened, only a fortnight
ago, to turn the 1956 Olympic Games into a bitter burlesque. Athletes from 68
competing nations were on hand, the protests of dissidents were stilled, and
the sports-intoxicated continent of Australia awaited the opening of the Games
with a pride and an excitement which were irresistible. Both wild anticipation
and awful suspense were combined in the news from down under, but the news
itself was straight off the performance track: the U.S. team was demonstrating
runaway speed in pre-Games meets, and World-record Miler John Landy, after a
year of preparation, seemed hardly able to run at all.
Aussies jammed into the little town of Bendigo (probably the only municipality
in the world named for a bare-knuckle prize fighter) to watch the Americans
perform; a good many of them left in genuine awe. The track—of grass on a
cinder base—was obviously fast, and almost every event resembled a rocket
launching. Five Australian records fell. California's Leamon King equaled the
world record of 9.3 in the 100; Bobby Morrow raced a 220 in 20.9; Parry O'Brien
tossed the shot 60 feet 8? inches, and Charley Dumas loafed over the high jump
at 6 feet 9 inches. Half-miler Tom Courtney switched to the quarter for fun and
Davis—though the track slanted uphill for a bit before sloping down again—raced
over the 120-yard high hurdles in 13.3 to crack his own world record.
trials and tribulations of John Landy were much more difficult to assess.
Though no man has yet touched his world record of 3:58 in the mile, he has been
twice beaten in four-minute miles—by Roger Bannister and Jim Bailey. For a year
he has hoped to perform a supreme act of self-justification in the Olympics.
But until recently he has suffered from inflamed tendons in both legs, and last
week, when he ran a trial two-mile in a night meet at Geelong, he failed badly.
A crowd of 20,000 uttered a long "a-a-a-a-h" of relief as he tried to
move up in the fourth lap, then sat, despondent, as he fell back again, face
distorted and his rhythm faulty, to finish 11th in a field of 13. "I was
frozen from the ankles up," he muttered afterward. But he felt no pain the
following day and, after a workout, announced that he was "fit and
all the world) could only wait and hope that Landy—perhaps the most dramatic
single figure in the Games—would finally surmount his troubles. The Aussies
were able, however, to enjoy one moment of national satisfaction last week
after three Germans, lately arrived to see the Games, complained they could not
get tickets. Since the Germans had paddled 15,000 miles in a canoe to get to
Australia, tickets were duly obtained for them.
TALL CORN DAY IN
Iowa is a
small-town state whose good people find a Big Ten football game an excellent
occasion to whoop and holler a week's orneriness away. Compound this fact of
midwestern life with the appetite Iowa fans acquired in 34 years without a Big
Ten title (and no trip to the Rose Bowl) and you have the makings of an
earthquake in the normally calm corn-and-hog belt. Last Saturday in Iowa City
when Iowa's overlooked football team upset Ohio State (see page 29), thereby
winning themselves a Rose Bowl trip and a share of the Big Ten championship,
the rumble and roar was considerable.
which was to prevail all weekend, began even before the game was over, when
hundreds of fans poured onto the field only to find Ohio State players on their
own 3-yard line and still interested in trying one more desperate play.
Referees finally cleared the field, the game ended, and the madness officially