He kicked at the thick grass of the Soldier Field infield.
"I'm not making excuses," he said. "Josh is a wonderful runner. But I'm darn glad the season is over."
Mental fatigue, too, affected some of the U.S. competitors, like Don Bragg, surely the best pole vaulter in the world, who sat waiting his turn at the vaulting pits.
"I had trouble getting up about this meet," he said, "until I got this infected blister. Then that gave me something to overcome—a challenge. I'm nauseated right now; I'm nervous; I'm excited. But I wouldn't have been just for the meet itself. I needed that extra incentive of overcoming something."
He watched the early vaults of his competitors with interest.
"Watch these guys," he said. "Watch them wait for their run up to vault. One thing you'll notice is they swallow just before they take off. That's a big thing. Sounds funny, doesn't it? But you got to swallow your saliva just right. When I swallow my spit right, I go. If a guy swallows his saliva and then he doesn't go, he'll psych out. He can't go then. But if you swallow just right, you'll make it."
He hauled the tired, handsome physique which may make him movies' next Tarzan to the head of the runway and stood very still, looking pensively at the high crossbar. Then he swallowed his spit, took off and sailed over easily.
"Next year I'm going to stride through the indoor meets," he said when he came back to the head of the runway. "You can't be ready physically or mentally for all the meets. And the Olympic trials are the big thing. I don't want to miss the Olympics."
The most impressive show of track strength at the Pan American Games was made by a fine group of quarter milers from the West Indies Federation. College-trained in the U.S. and comparatively fresh since most of them had skipped the National AAU meet, they were filled with a tremendous desire to beat their U.S. rivals. They finished 1-2-3 in the 400-meter run and scored a clear victory over the U.S. in the 1,600-meter relay. Their best individual performer was George Kerr, who won the 400, anchored the relay team and finished an eyelash behind Tom Murphy in the 800 meters after running a poor race tactically.