- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Gayle Dierks is another young girl from the West who came, saw and was conquered by the experienced Tennessee State women. Gayle didn't make the finals in her events, but she still has a "burning desire to run and win."
Two years ago Frank Potts, coach at Colorado University and one of the deans of American track and field, spotted Gayle at an AAU Junior Olympic meet and was attracted by two things: 1) her free natural running style and 2) her obvious determination to win. Potts called Gayle into his office and questioned her closely about her ambitions as a runner. He found out that she had been running ever since she was in the second grade and that, in spite of the fact that she had never had any coaching or encouragement, she had made up her own training schedule and stuck with it. Potts was impressed and asked Coach Dick Brenneman from her home town of Englewood to help Gayle.
If the Russian coach Korobkov is surprised by what the American sprinters achieved, he couldn't have been more surprised than the Philadelphia crowd as they watched the unearthing of two very classy broad jumpers, also from Tennessee State. Not in years has the U.S. come up with two such leapers, and there's reason to hope that if 21-year-old Margaret Mathews—who jumped 19 feet 4 inches—and 14-year-old Willie White—who kept right on Margaret's heels with 18 feet 10¾ inches—repeat their performances at the tryouts, they should both make the team and keep things hopping at Melbourne.
Out in the middle of the field, a good safe distance from the rest of the contestants, blonde Karen Anderson, the best javelinist we've ever had, picked up her weapon. With a long run-up and bound in the air she hurled the javelin 159 feet one inch—a good throw but six feet short of her best, as Karen kept something in reserve for the Saturday tryouts. Karen, an attractive blonde with light gray-blue eyes, has a well-balanced head on her shoulders and feels sensibly about the Olympics: "I'm not going to roll over and die if I don't win a medal. Life will go on for me, I've got so many things I want to do."
As the long sultry afternoon dragged on at Franklin Field, Mildred Mc-Daniel, Tuskegee Institute's world class high jumper, chewed on oranges, poured water on her hair and kept poking her head under an umbrella to keep out of the sun. While her pal, Billy Jo Jackson of Texas, had nervous palpitations—"I just never know whether my stomach is going to stay with me over that bar"—Mildred would amble up to the jump and hop over the bar in her modified western barrel-roll style. "Gosh, Mildred," complained her rivals, "at least make it look hard for our sake." At 5 feet 4 inches, with her competitors sprawling their three chances in the pit, Mildred called it quits: "Not going to take a chance of hurting myself. I mean to make that Olympic team next week." Nobody this week was pushing herself to the limit—the Olympic try-outs are it.
It is a pity that so many may be disappointed when they learn about some funny business on the part of the International Olympic Commission this year—setting up of minimum standards for the women's track and field events. The coaches begrudgingly accept the IOC executive decision, noting the inconsistency, since no such standards exist for the men. Our long distance boys, marathoners and walkers go three deep to Melbourne even though they are hopelessly outclassed in international competitions. There are those who believe that this is as it should be—who feel that standards in any events, whether for men or women, are undesirable, for the question is much more fundamental than who is good enough to win and who isn't. Standards smack of the Russian attitude of "Don't compete unless you can win" and violate a basic ideal of the Olympics: that the Olympics are a matter of personal achievement and that the best of each nation should have the honor and opportunity to represent their countries. There are others who feel that standards, wherever applicable in the Olympic program, would eliminate those who haven't done the necessary preparatory work.
But to set up arbitrary standards in only one part of the program is unjust.
Apart from the injustice of these minimum standards, the whole women's team for nine Olympic events is limited by the U.S. Olympic Board to 10 girls. As a result, a promising youngster such as 17-year-old Pamela Kurrell, who won all of her events in the girls' division and won the women's discus throw by improving 38 feet on her mark of last year (three feet more than the standard), is one of several girls who ought to be brought along in international competition but may not get the chance to go to Melbourne.
With the American challenge boiling down to a good close battle in the sprints and relay events, an excellent chance in the high jump and a better than fair chance in the javelin, how capable of slowing down the Russian steam roller are the rest of the women in the world?
Fragile-looking as a feather but with quills stuck deep in her hide, Bertha Diaz of Cuba put on a show at Philadelphia as she flew away from her rivals to set a new American record of 11.1 in the 80-meter hurdles. With her Cuban record of 11 flat, Bertha ranks among the six fleetest hurdlers in the world. Only German and Russian girls have done slightly better.