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the odor around McTear's "9.0" (aka '9.30')

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  • the odor around McTear's "9.0" (aka '9.30')

    I've long had it in my mind that all was not right about that mark, and in finding a couple of T&FN articles I had long forgotten, I'm reminded just how fishy things are.

    T&FN, August 1975
    <<Houston McTear may be out of luck. At an AAU T&F Committee meeting held in Eugene [at the Nationals], McTear's 9.0 came up for approval by the group, a necessary prerequisite for acceptance by the IAAF as a World Record.

    The members were all set to give the mark their OK.... when it was pointed out that the international rules state that when hand timing and electric [sic] timing are both at use in a meet, the electric will prevail even though it is not the "official" timing, as was the case in Winter Park [the Florida HS meet where McTear made his time].

    So, although three watches caught McTear in 9.0, the electric time of 9.30 is the only one the IAAF will look at, and 9.3s are a dime a dozen. The T&FN Committee voted to withhold approval of the mark until it could be determined whether the electric tiing was indeed, in use and/or was being used properly when McTear ran his 9.0.>>

    T&FN, January 1976
    << It isn't easy...... ratification was stalled by the AAU when it was discovered that a fully-automic timing device (Accutrack) had been in operation at the meet. New IAAF rules state that if such a device is in operation, the times recorded tehre are the ones which will stand for record consideration, whether the meet declares the device "official timing" or not. The Accutrack read a non-record 9.30 on McTear's race.

    However, meet backers claimed the machine had been malfunctioning throughout the meet and pushed ahead. AAU Records Chairman Al Post stepped in, got permission from track chairman Stan Wright and bypassed records officials to forward the application directly to the IAAF, which ratified it.

    "I took the action through the track & field board because I'm for teh athlete," said Post. "I processed this record on behalf of the athlete more than anybody else."

    Unfortunately, Post died several weeks later and will not be able to comment on a new portion of the controversy. T&FN has heard through the grapevine that a counter-protest could be lodged by those who say there was outside pressure and that the Accutrack could not have been wrong. Stay tuned.>>

    Unfortunately, I don't think there was ever anything ever again to tune into.

    There were tales at the time that pressure had been brought to bear on Post by influential collegiate people interested in recruiting McTear and assuring the record recognition was a bargaining chip.

    As to thoughts that the device "had been malfunctioning through the meet," I'm willing to bet that's because the hand timing was so sucky the people couldn't believe how far off it was from the Accutrack.

    But before we rush to the judgment that the 9.30 should have been used, I should also mention that we were told at the time that nobody outside the meet had actually seen a photo of the 9.30 (and in those early days nobody was particularly tuned in to actually verifying photofinish pictures). And since the meet was still in a 10th-second-timing mindset, the "9.30" may well have been a 9.3x (i.e., anything from 9.30 to 9.39)

    Obviously we'll never know for sure, but I thought a little historical perspective might be in order here.

    Bottom line is that any hand-timed sprint needs to be taken with (many) grains of salt.

  • #2
    The only question to us remains, was the 9.30 legit? If so, it was smokin' fast by the standards of the day and the circumstances. If the 9.30 were proven to be false, it's still smokin' fast because 9.0 hand is faster than 9.1 hand, even if the 'hands' are less qualified. We can't question the hand-timers' reliability, because then we'd have to question EVERY hand time ever recorded. I still say that whatever McTear ran that day was significant - we may, however, never know exactly what he did run. This ranks up there with Bob Hayes' Tokyo anchor - I've never seen an answer as to whether it was 8.6 or 8.8, but we all know it was smokin' .

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    • #3
      Did you read my post in a mirror or what? The whole point is that the timing surrounding the mark is in such disrepute that it should get virtually no credence at all, not be compared with Bob Hayes. The mind boggles.

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      • #4
        The following year, McTear ran a fine 10.16 for a PR in the OT final. The wind was a virtually perfect +1.9 (compared with +0.9 in the "9.0"). McTear passed 100y during that 100m in around 9.38-9.40, supposedly a tenth slower than the year before. It's clear that GH is correct in not giving much credence to this mark. The only 9.0 man so afr is Mr Bolt - who passed 100 yards in Beijing in 8.93, based on a split of 8.80 at 90m.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by gh
          Did you read my post in a mirror or what? The whole point is that the timing surrounding the mark is in such disrepute that it should get virtually no credence at all, not be compared with Bob Hayes. The mind boggles.
          No, you wrote this:

          Originally posted by gh
          three watches caught McTear in 9.0
          So my point remains valid - 3 watches caught him in 9.0. Every other hand-timed World Record was achieved by the same 'de facto' (it is what it is) hand timers. Some were just as well or badly timed as McTear's. You can complain all you want, but that was the reality in the Hand-timed Era.

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          • #6
            I give up.

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            • #7
              If McTear had slid into sprint obscurity like a Derrick Florence, Carter Suggs and so many other high school flashs, then I'd tend to look at his 9.0, as I do a Francis "who?" Baldwin or a Doug "who" Hawken 9.2. Both of them ran that near WR then....poof! McTear did set how many indoor WR's? He was also world ranked in the 100m. Since he did do things that gave the impression a 9.0 wasn't something he couldn't do, I have no problems giving him the benefit of the doubt. Then there's his 10.13 which is faster than Borzov's Olympic win in 72.

              I've seen a lot of track in my day but watching McTear come from wayyyyyyyy back in a JC 4x2 still remains one of the most amazing displays of speed I've ever seen. As we know he wasn't known as a 200 guy.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by gh
                I give up.
                What in your post discredits the three 9.0 watches? It was indeed, by the hand-timing rules of the day, a 9.0. So it beats all the 9.1s and 9.2s of history. We can't go back and wonder what their FAT times would have been, so why is the bogus 9.30 even an issue? Throw it out and go back to the 9.0 hand time. It was on face value, which is the ONLY way one can take hand times, the fastest ever run.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Marlow
                  Throw it out and go back to the 9.0 hand time. It was on face value, which is the ONLY way one can take hand times, the fastest ever run.
                  FWIW, Bolt's 9.69 would have yielded 9.4 hand, or 8.6 yards. Yikes!

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                  • #10
                    9.0 seems a just a little faster than the McTear I remember but as dashers go he certainly had an amazing first 60m. If that race were on synthetic I have no problem believing he could have run a hand timed 9.0. Id probably rate him in terms of raw potential as the greatest talent at the short sprint I have ever seen. My recollection of him at 100m was of him always bolting out to an astounding lead, making notable 100m men look handicapped. It was at about 70m that McTear to my memory seemed to break down even when at his best. He was the antithesis of a sprinter from 15 years later, King Carl who seemed to just be getting warmed up by 70m.
                    ... nothing really ever changes my friend, new lines for old, new lines for old.

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                    • #11
                      I've always believed that if there was no track and one day they just decided to have a foot race down the alley, that after it was said and done there would stand Bob Hayes and Houston Mctear in the final. The two most "naturally" fast humans that ever walked the face of the earth. Sure there could have been some cat in the Congo that.........but we don'tknow about him.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Texas
                        I've always believed that if there was no track and one day they just decided to have a foot race down the alley, that after it was said and done there would stand Bob Hayes and Houston Mctear in the final. The two most "naturally" fast humans that ever walked the face of the earth. Sure there could have been some cat in the Congo that.........but we don'tknow about him.
                        The winner would then go on to lose to Usain Bolt.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by steve
                          The winner would then go on to lose to Usain Bolt.
                          As preternaturally awesome as Bolt is, he's till not (yet) my GOAT; Bullet still is. Bolt can change my mind this year with another perfect season.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by steve
                            Originally posted by Texas
                            I've always believed that if there was no track and one day they just decided to have a foot race down the alley, that after it was said and done there would stand Bob Hayes and Houston Mctear in the final. The two most "naturally" fast humans that ever walked the face of the earth. Sure there could have been some cat in the Congo that.........but we don'tknow about him.
                            The winner would then go on to lose to Usain Bolt.
                            Hayes was really a footballer who had great speed. As we know McTear was wowing us as a kid. While Bolt is absolutely incredible he did have a far better situation than Hayes and McTear had since he was being treated as a world class talent at what....16? I'm talking about a situation where nobody ever ran other than to catch a bus or something similiar. Then one day they do run. I can't say in "that" scenario Bolt is superior to Hayes or McTear.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Texas
                              Hayes was really a footballer who had great speed.
                              And Streisand is an actress that could sing, and Michael Jackson was baseball player who could play basketball, and Obama is a community organizer who could president. :roll:

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