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1956 PV question

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  • 1956 PV question

    I am in the middle of Don Bragg's terrific autobiography "A Chance to Dare". But one minor point has me wondering: Bragg writes about the US 1956 Trials:

    "Jimmy Graham, a talented ..vaulter from Oklahoma, was scheduled to go to Melbourne, but he sprained his ankle. It... would have healed.., but the officials said...(a)lternate Bob Gutowski would vault in his place...Jimmy had earned the right..but they took it away and gave it to the Californian..."

    As I remember the incident (I was quite young then), Graham voluntarily and gallantly gave Gutowski his spot because he felt Gutowski was the better vaulter. His judgment was likely vindicated, since Gutowski earned the silver behind Richards.

    I realize I have no business arguing Pole Vault history with Mr.Bragg, but I was wondering if anyone out there remembers the story and can confirm one or the other version.

  • #2
    Re: 1956 PV question

    I'm inclined to think Bragg has it wrong. Article in T&FN the month before the Melbourne games talks of Graham's voluntary abdication, and the fans at a pre Olympic meet being so moved by his generous gesture that they took up a $ 500 collection to pay for him to go Down Under as a spectator. The OG issue itself speaks of his voluntary relinquishment.

    But who knows. Gutowski is long gone, sadly.

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    • #3
      Re: 1956 PV question

      Thanks, HJSteve. I am pleased my memory was apparently right. However I did in the meantime find a website about Polish athletes and in Gutowski's bio it says he replaced Graham who was unable to compete because of an injury. It looks like somebody is re-writing history...

      Yes indeed RIP Bob Gutowski, car crash 1960, a driver who was driving on the left side of the road hit his car head-on.

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      • #4
        1956 PV Question

        At the '56 FOT, Jim Graham placed third at 14' 8 1/2" with Bob Gutowski fourth at the same height (followed by Ron Morris, Fred Barnes and Don Laz also at 14' 8 1/2"). At the first Pre Oly meet, in Eugene (over 2 months later), Gutowski won at 14' 8" while Graham did not vault. A month later, at the second Pre Oly meet, at Berkeley, Gutowski won at 14' 8" while Graham sprained his ankle warming up and, again, did not vault.. A week later, at the third Pre Oly meet, at Ontario, Gutowski was second to Bob Richards (15' 0 1/4" to 14' 8") while Graham was fourth at 13' 6". A week later, at the fourth Pre Oly meet, at Santa Ana, Richard and Gutowski tied for first at 15' 5" while Graham was fourth at 14' 0". A week later, at the fifh Pre Oly meet, at the L.A. Coliseum, Gutowski and George Mattos tied for first at 14' 8" while Graham placed fourth with a mark of 14' 4". Occidental students passed the hat here and collected some $500, to allow Graham to go to the Games as a spectator AND to vault at the post-Olympic USA vs BE meet. At that meet, in Sydney, Graham replaced Gutowski and placed third at 14' 0" (behind Mattos' 14' 4" and Richards' 14' 0").

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        • #5
          I checked the Los Angeles Times story covering Graham's withdrawal. It seems convincing that he withdrew of his own volition and without external prompting. Graham is mantioned as having been bothered by an ankle injury that left him below the level of his FOT performance.

          The story cites Bud Held and Leamon King as being clearly the best of the competitors in the JT and the 100 during the meets at Berkeley, Ontario, Santa Ana and Los Angeles. However, neither was added to the team in place of any of the first three FOT finishers.

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          • #6
            1956 PV Question

            I believe Graham was accorded a sportsmanship honor at the following year's AAU convention or something. He sure earned it. Remember, also, that Ron Drummond, the NCAA and AAU champ who placed third at the FOT discus, took himself off the team as well, to attend dental school and didn't compete in any of the Pre Oly meets. His replacement, Des Koch, placed third at Melbourne. Leamon King, who placed 4th at the FOT in the 100, won all the Pre Oly meets in, respectively, 10.3, 10.3, 10.1w, 10.1 and 10.4 and, a week before the OG 100 final, won on a grass track (the same day that Jack Davis tied the WR in the 120HH) in 9.3w. Bud Held, WR holder, who missed out at the FOT JT by one inch, also won all of the Pre Oly meets in, respectively, (compared to the 3rd placer at the FOT, Ben Garcia <who never placed higher than third at any of the meets>), 254' 1" to 230'4", 256' 2 1/2" to 235' 8", 259' 2 1/2" to 236' 4 1/2", 258' 5" to 235' 1" and 263' 1" to 206' 5 1/2". As well as Dave Sime going down, Jim Golliday had gone down at the AAU and Willie Williams, who also didn't make the team, not long after broke the WR in the 100. Incredible sprint talent that year.

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            • #7
              Re: 1956 PV Question

              Originally posted by Bauchwalzer
              I believe Graham was accorded a sportsmanship honor at the following year's AAU convention or something. He sure earned it. Remember, also, that Ron Drummond, the NCAA and AAU champ who placed third at the FOT discus, took himself off the team as well, to attend dental school and didn't compete in any of the Pre Oly meets. His replacement, Des Koch, placed third at Melbourne. Leamon King, who placed 4th at the FOT in the 100, won all the Pre Oly meets in, respectively, 10.3, 10.3, 10.1w, 10.1 and 10.4 and, a week before the OG 100 final, won on a grass track (the same day that Jack Davis tied the WR in the 120HH) in 9.3w. Bud Held, WR holder, who missed out at the FOT JT by one inch, also won all of the Pre Oly meets in, respectively, (compared to the 3rd placer at the FOT, Ben Garcia <who never placed higher than third at any of the meets>), 254' 1" to 230'4", 256' 2 1/2" to 235' 8", 259' 2 1/2" to 236' 4 1/2", 258' 5" to 235' 1" and 263' 1" to 206' 5 1/2". As well as Dave Sime going down, Jim Golliday had gone down at the AAU and Willie Williams, who also didn't make the team, not long after broke the WR in the 100. Incredible sprint talent that year.
              Bud Held would have been a real medal threat in Melbourne. Did he not also have a 82m (270) throw sometimes during that fall?
              But at the times of the Pre Oly meets he was no longer the WR holder as Nikkinen, Sidlo and Danielsen during a couple of weeks in June/July '56 all improved on Held's 1955 WR.

              Was King's first 10.1 wind aided?

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              • #8
                1956 PV Question

                Well, I misspoke about Held. King's first 10.1 was windy - 3.2 mph.

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