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4 x 400m in Munich 1972: Kenya dropping the baton?

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  • 4 x 400m in Munich 1972: Kenya dropping the baton?

    I have entered a YouTube discussion, where the following claim was made:

    "The Kenyan quartet of Hezekiah Nyamau, Robert Ouko, Julius Sang and Charles Asati, presented one of the biggest comebacks in sporting history by dropping the baton at the first exchange, dropping to eighth place, and coming back from eighth place to win the gold medal for Kenya in the men’s 4 × 400 metres men’s relay at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games."

    I also found the same text in

    https://kenyapostcardsandkenyaphotos...olympic-games/

    To me, this story seems unbelievable. Unfortunately I can find only incomplete amateur footage of this race in YouTube, but at least there nothing is seen of the incident nor of Kenya's being even close to the last at any place.

    I suppose some of you remember this race better than me. Is there any truth to the baton-dropping claim?

  • #2
    I don't recall that incident but that doesn't mean it didn't happen!

    The KEN quartet was Charles Asati, Munyoro Nyamau, Robert Ouko, Julius Sang. If the baton was dropped at the first exchange, Asati and Nyamau would be the culprits.

    This seems unlikely because both ran the same legs for silver in '68 - Charles Asati, Munyoro Nyamau, Naftali Bon, Daniel Rudisha (David's dad). There was no lack of experience in high pressure races for these two.

    Shutterstock has this photo sequence of the first exchange in 1972, clearly showing Asati and Nyamau:

    Photo 1.
    Photo 2.

    Photographers love a disaster, and there's lots of them at finish line, so if it happened you'd expect at least one photo.

    Comment


    • #3
      For some additional context, a table of splits for Kenya from www.alltime-athletics.com :
      Kenya 72h 72f 68f
      Charles Asati 45.7 45.3 44.6
      Mynyoro Nyamau 45.6 45.8 45.5
      Robert Ouko 44.9 45.2 -
      Julius Sang 45.1 43.6 -

      Once you account for Mexico elevation, Asati and Nyamau are pretty damned consistent, probably why they were on the first two legs.

      Splits for GBR and FRG, also shown in the photos above:

      Martin Reynolds 46.3
      Alan Pascoe 45.1
      David Hemery 45.1
      David Jenkins 44.0
      Germany
      Bernd Herrmann 45.8
      Horst-Rüdiger Schlöske 44.5
      Hermann Köhler 45.6
      Karl Honz 45.0

      Comment


      • #4
        I was in Munich for this relay and can tell you that I did not see Kenya drop the baton. Here's what I have from my program: Asati 45.3, Nyamau 45.8, Ouko 45.2, and Sang 43.5. It would be almost impossible for this team to drop a baton, pick it up off the track, and still run under three minutes.

        Comment


        • #5
          The T&FN story on the Munich 4x4 was written by the estimable Jim Dunaway, and he makes no mention of a drop. I was also there and recall no such incident. Finally, I would note that we had access to a very early model of a VCR at that point and in clarifying the splits I must have watched the race 30-40 times. If there had been even the slightest bobble I can't imagine it wouldn't have found its way into Jim's story.

          The Athletics Arena coverage also makes no mention of any baton problems.

          In short, I'm comfortable in saying it never happened.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks to all for your responses. Everything suggests then that the whole story has simply been made up, or is based on some confusion with some other competition. Well, it would not be the first time one finds BS claims in the YouTube or Internet...

            Comment


            • #7
              Julius Sang's World Athletics' profile attributes to him a 3000m SC PB of 8:19.14, run in 1992.

              https://www.worldathletics.org/athle...-sang-14344865

              Of course, that mark was in fact just another race for Patrick Sang, who has an 8:03 PB to his credit.

              Accuracy isn't expected from random YouTube posters, but: come on, WA. Given the number of athletes with the same last name and the amount of data that has to be processed for the profiles, you'd think WA would have a system for running down obvious date and event anomalies.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Olli View Post
                Thanks to all for your responses. Everything suggests then that the whole story has simply been made up, or is based on some confusion with some other competition. Well, it would not be the first time one finds BS claims in the YouTube or Internet...
                I had a look at other KEN wins around that time and couldn't find anything on a great comeback. Athletics Weekly doesn't mention anything for Commonwealth Games and after Munich, I don't think they had an OG team until 2012.

                They did win the 1973 All Africa Games in Lagos, Nigeria in a 3:06 on a tartan track, so they may have been able to do that after a dropped baton. However, no articles mention anything special about this win at all.

                We do know that Kenya came from behind (4th?) in Munich, so it could just be an exaggeration of the actual race. In 20 years time they'll probably have cleared hurdles all the way to win...

                For anybody interested in a behind the scenes article on the '72 team, the following link say Sang and his 43.5/6 leg wasn't supposed to be on the team!

                https://www.pd.co.ke/sports/athletic...ics-gold-3745/

                Comment


                • #9
                  To answer my own question on how far back KEN was placed in the Munich final, here are the splits courtesy of www.alltime-athletics.com, the cumulative time and the ranking based on cumulative time. Sorted in order of placing:
                  Splits
                  Nation Leg1 Leg2 Leg3 Leg4
                  KEN 45.3 45.8 45.2 43.6
                  GBR 46.3 45.1 45.1 44.0
                  FRA 46.2 44.1 45.6 44.8
                  FRG 45.8 44.5 45.6 45.0
                  POL 46.0 45.0 45.2 44.9
                  FIN 46.7 45.1 44.8 44.5
                  SWE 46.0 45.5 45.3 45.8
                  Cumulative
                  Nation Leg1 Leg2 Leg3 Leg4
                  KEN 45.3 91.1 136.3 179.9
                  GBR 46.3 91.4 136.5 180.5
                  FRA 46.2 90.3 135.9 180.7
                  FRG 45.8 90.3 135.9 180.9
                  POL 46.0 91.0 136.2 181.1
                  FIN 46.7 91.8 136.6 181.1
                  SWE 46.0 91.5 136.8 182.6
                  Rank
                  Nation Leg1 Leg2 Leg3 Leg4
                  KEN 1 4 4 1
                  GBR 6 5 5 2
                  FRA 5 2 1= 3
                  FRG 2 1 1= 4
                  POL 3= 3 3 5
                  FIN 7 7 6 6
                  SWE 3= 6 7 7

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    don't know where the all-time ath splits come from, but I'll stand by ours
                    1 Kenya 2:59.83
                    (Asati 45.5, Nyamau 45.5, Ouko 45.3, J. Sang 43.5)
                    2 Great Britain 3:00.46
                    (Reynolds 46.2, Pascoe 45.1, Hemery 45.1, Jenkins 44.1)
                    3 France 3:00.65
                    (Bertould 46.4, Vélasquez 44.8, Kerbiriou 45.2, Carette
                    44.3)
                    4 West Germany 3:00.88
                    (Herrmann 46.1, Schlöske 44.2, Köhler 45.6, Honz 45.0)
                    5 Poland 3:01.05
                    (Werner 45.8, Balachowski 45.2, Jaremski 45.2, Badenski 44.9)
                    6 Finland 3:01.12
                    (Lönnqvist 46.5, Salin 45.1, Karttunen 45.1, Kukkoaho 44.4)
                    7 Sweden 3:02.57
                    (Carlgren 46.0, Faager 45.5, Öhman 45.3, Rönner 45.8)
                    8 Trinidad 3:03.60
                    (Cooper 46.7, Marshall 46.0, Joseph 44.5, Roberts 46.4)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Olli View Post
                      I have entered a YouTube discussion, where the following claim was made:

                      "The Kenyan quartet of Hezekiah Nyamau, Robert Ouko, Julius Sang and Charles Asati, presented one of the biggest comebacks in sporting history by dropping the baton at the first exchange, dropping to eighth place, and coming back from eighth place to win the gold medal for Kenya in the men’s 4 × 400 metres men’s relay at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games."

                      I also found the same text in

                      https://kenyapostcardsandkenyaphotos...olympic-games/

                      To me, this story seems unbelievable. Unfortunately I can find only incomplete amateur footage of this race in YouTube, but at least there nothing is seen of the incident nor of Kenya's being even close to the last at any place.

                      I suppose some of you remember this race better than me. Is there any truth to the baton-dropping claim?
                      I looked at the YT video referred to and saw the comments. Whoever that is is simply getting bad info. I don't recall Kenya being any further back than 2nd the entire time and, what's really strange, is that the video the comments are under would support my memory. The split listings on this thread would also back up my recollection. The writeups on sites such as Olympedia.org don't mention a drop and who thinks any country at that time was running sub 3:00 with a dropped baton included?

                      Didn't happen.

                      Comment

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