- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The American 1,600-meter relay team, on the other hand, in the most intelligently run, esthetically satisfying race of the Olympics, set a world record which will stand. The four Americans—solemn Jack Yerman, 19-year-old, somewhat frightened Earl Young, Glenn Davis, surely the finest competitor in the Olympics, and 400-meter champion Otis Davis—faced a strong challenge from an excellent German team. Each leg of the race had to be run properly and at optimum speed, and the Americans produced exactly what was needed.
Yerman, running solidly and carefully, picked up a yard lead over George Kerr, who opened for the British West Indies team, and two over the German lead-off man. The Germans planned to attack over the next two legs—against the inexperienced Young and against Glenn Davis. They sent Manfred Kinder, who placed fifth in the 400 in 45.9, against Young, who had finished sixth in the same race. Young, running with considerable aplomb, ignored Kinder's challenge on the backstretch, floating along easily with his long stride. Kinder was ahead going into the turn. Then Young spurted, took the lead down the stretch and gave Davis a two-yard edge.
Glenn, running against Johannes Kaiser, took it easy, running with his own air of sprightly confidence. Kaiser pulled up on him quickly, ran a step behind, then made his bid as they reached the back turn.
"I wanted him to do that," Davis explained later. "I took it easy so he would use up his strength catching me on the backstretch. I expected him to come up on my shoulder. They thought I would be open and he would go right by. When he came up, I carried him wide. Then, when he relaxed, I kicked and opened up the lead I wanted."
Glenn built that lead to four yards by the time he handed off to Otis Davis, who was matched with Kaufmann, the man who had finished an eyelash second to him in the 400. Otis became a cagey runner very quickly under the stress of Olympic competition. He played with Kaufmann much as Kuts did with Gordon Pirie in the 10,000-meter run at Melbourne. "I just learned how to run in the last couple of races," Otis said. "I accelerated a little to make Kaufmann use his strength to catch me, then I floated. When he came up, I'd accelerate again, then float again. I figured he'd use up his power trying to catch me each time, then I'd turn on the kick and walk away."
Otis turned on the kick coming out of the turn and did, indeed, walk away. He ran the anchor lap in 44.4 seconds, gaining a yard on Kaufmann, who ran 44.5. The Americans' time, 3:02.2, broke the world record of 3:03.9 set by Jamaica at Helsinki in 1952.
There were, of course, other American victories, but none as satisfying as this. Al Oerter ("I was so tense I could barely throw") won the discus, with Rink Babka second and Dick Cochran a surprising third. Don Bragg ("My legs trembled and I got blisters") set an Olympic record in the pole vault, with Ron Morris second.
And there were two sixth-place finishers who give promise for American medals in Tokyo in 1964. Dyrol Burleson set an American record in the 1,500 behind Elliott, and little Max Truex ran the 10,000 meters 45 seconds faster than he ever had before to place sixth in his race.
"I'm going to work with Igloi for the next four years," Max said. "Then comes Tokyo."