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Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

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  • Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

    Gang,why were there so many American track and field athletes on the 1964 Olympic team that only were significant factors in that one games? When one thinks of Henry Carr, Dick Stebbins,John Thomas,Ulis Williams, Hayes Jones,Mike Larrabee, Rosie Bonds, Gayl Hopkins and others, they do not surface again in Mexico City. Allowing that Carr and Bob Hayes traded in their spikes for cleats- how about the rest of the team. It doesn't appear many were veterans of the Rome games either.

  • #2
    Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

    Randy Matson showed his first awesome potential with a big PR for Silver in Tokyo, then re-defined the event a year later, and easily moved up to Gold in Mexico City.

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    • #3
      Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

      Seems like I remember some guy named Oerter too...

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      • #4
        Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

        and Boston...

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        • #5
          Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

          and Ryun...

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          • #6
            Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

            and Silvester..

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            • #7
              Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

              I realize the Games had multiple Olympians such as Tyus, Davenport and perhaps Edith McGuire, but have always wondered why, by 1967, the short sprints were owned by Messrs. Smith and Carlos (and to a lesser extent Charlie Greene).

              Oerter had been around since 1956, his peristence does not answer my original question.

              Bijan

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              • #8
                Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

                I would think that the most obvious answer would lie in the difficulty of earning a living wage from track back then. The ones you mentioned moved on in their lives. Days of 'amateurism' et al.

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                • #9
                  Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

                  >I would think that the most obvious answer would lie in the difficulty of
                  >earning a living wage from track back then. The ones you mentioned moved on in
                  >their lives. Days of 'amateurism' et al.

                  Exactly.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

                    That explains why by 1967, Henry Carr, Homer Jones and Bob Hayes were in the NFL (while Tommie Smith and John Carlos were blazing the cinders) Even Frank Budd (I know, he wasn't in Tokyo)tried out for the Eagles, and Dick Stebbins was a football Giant for a spell.

                    Speaking of Giants, hurdler Rosie Bonds has a nephew that's gainfully employed in San Francisco. Speed must run in the family. So many early 1960's sprinters turned to the gridiron. Stone Johnson played with the Kansas City Chiefs before dying very young. Sounds like it was difficult to survive finacially between Olympiads.

                    Bijan

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                    • #11
                      Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

                      Well, John Thomas was world class from about '58 and onwards and was a huge name in '60 despite the bronze medal. Ulis Williams had a long career and Hayes Jones was world class from '58, had bronze in 60 and was about the best in the world after Calhoun packed it in after the '60 games.
                      Larrabee had been around for years and it was only logical for him to retire after that incredible season in '64.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

                        What's the mystery? A lot of the athletes mentioned were old by by 1964 (wasn't Larrabee already 31?) and in those days there was no money in the sport, so people like Carr who had other opportunities to make money through sports took off for greener pastures and others were forced to join the work-a-day world to feed their kids.
                        That is why athletes of their era who were just as talented as current WR holders (i.e. Tommie Smith)did not stay in the sport long enough to reach their full potentials.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

                          Yes, but Smith and Carlos'post-1968 careers were tempered with the knowledge that they were ineligible to run in Munich in 1972. That had to affect their training goals and outlooks.

                          Bijan

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                          • #14
                            Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

                            I don't see any difference in this respect between the US team of 1964 and the other US Olympic teams in the pre-1980s era. US throwers did have long careers, an odd jumper did too (Bob Richards and Ralph Boston come to mind), but most sprinters would only be at the top for one 4-year cycle. This only changed once real money was introduced to T&F, which made stretching your career worthwhile.

                            On the other hand, if you look at Eastern European athletes, who were in effect making a living out of T&F thanks to state sponsorship, you can see long careers were fairly common there in the 1950s-70s.
                            Było smaszno, a jaszmije smukwijne...

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                            • #15
                              Re: Why Only in '64, Tokyo?

                              Being old enough to remember...it was four years of university and then you put your career on hold until the next Olympics and then with any luck you were only two years behind your graduating class in the work force. If you were really lucky you got to compete in your prime while you were still in university.

                              Also Mike Larrabee was teaching school before he came out of retirement to run in '64. He was described in one article of the day as "being as rare as small-necked clams in a Japanese restaurant."...whatever that means.

                              Cman

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