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Greatest Match That Never Happened

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  • Greatest Match That Never Happened

    On the never-ending Track History thread, Dave Johnson has just suggested that Woodruff-Harbig at 800m was the greatest match race never to have taken place.

    I'd like to nominate another candidate for that title--Nehemiah and Moses at 400mH. In the late '70's and early 80's, Moses was unbeatable at the long hurdles. But those of us who saw Skeets run that 44.3 anchor leg at Penn used to salivate at the thought of the WR holder at the short hurldes taking up the 400mH and challenging the WR holder at that event. Both hurdlers were absolutely at their prime at the same time.

    If that race were ever going to take place, I'd have traveled anywhere in the world to see it. But as great as Nehemiah's talent was at both hurdling and running 400m, he never combined the two, and the race against Moses just never happened.

    (Edited to fix two typos--something we couldn't do when this was first posted.)

  • #2
    Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

    IF Herb Elliott had run just a few more years, an Elliott - Snell showdown in the mile would have been neat. Could Elliott have run away from Snell? If not, Snell would have gunned him down.

    O.J. Simpson and prison . . .

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    • #3
      Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

      Me'n Anna Kournikova......

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      • #4
        Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

        However these two great athlete did meet. Remember the Superstars competition? The only time these athletes ever met head to head. While every "world class" athlete used a rope to climb over a twelve foot wall Moses simple ran. step on teh wall and jumped grabbing the top on the wall as he flung himself over while skeets had to use the rope. With nehimiahs greater strength he managed to catch up on the football sled. Both ran over the ten foot water pit. Nehimiah did a front roll over the high jump bar while Moses Hurdled it. At the low hurldle Nehimiah one step them to the finish where as Mopses "No stepped" catching nehimiah for a photo finish. Moses by a couple hundredths. I remember my father and myself putting our afternoon plans on hold after finding out both were going head to head.

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        • #5
          Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

          Ahhh, the Superstars! Bob Seagren won like the second edition as I recall (first was Kyle Rote Jr. if memory serves). When TV started hyping Seagren as the world's greatest all-around athlete, Bill Toomey (still the AR holder, although retired) said, "I could could clean his clock."

          Seagren's brilliant riposte, "I make so much money now I send my clocks out to have them cleaned."

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          • #6
            Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

            bob hersh - my 'guess' would be that hurdling AFTER 300m would have taken its toll on Reynoldo. You think running after 300m is somewhat less than hurdling - which was (one of) Edwin's strengths ... What you think? OTOH - a classic for sure.

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            • #7
              Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

              >bob hersh - my 'guess' would be that hurdling
              AFTER 300m would have taken its toll on Reynoldo.
              You think running after 300m is somewhat less
              than hurdling - which was (one of) Edwin's
              strengths ... What you think? OTOH - a classic
              for sure.<

              Well, yes. That very uncertainty is one of the things that would have made it a classic. But I always assumed that if Nehemiah were ever going to do this, he would have trained for it seriously. And given his speed and his technique over the high hurdles, I never doubted that if he did decide to challenge Moses and did the appropriate work in preparation for it, he could have won the race. But WOULD he have won the race? We'll never know.

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              • #8
                Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

                I remember Nolan Cromwell crushing Nehemiah's course record in the obstacle run at the Superstars. People forget that the DB was a darn good hurdler for such a big guy.

                The biggest match that never happened? Too many to list. Coe and Ovett never met at one mile back in '81, when it seemed like they were taking weekly turns at lowering the record.

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                • #9
                  Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

                  Take away Hohn's injury and Zelezny-Hohn in the late 80's and early 90's would have been a great matchup

                  Nehemiah vs Foster and Kingdom in the 1984 Olympics

                  Frank Shorter vs un drug aided Cierpinski

                  Mathias vs Heino Lipp at the 48 Games

                  Akii-Bua vs Moses in 1976

                  Sotomayor at the 1988 Olympics after his new WR

                  Paavo Nurmi vs the field in 1936

                  Bob Hayes vs Jim Hines 1968 at altitude

                  a healthy and unbanned Butch Reynolds vs Michael Johnson 1990-2

                  Oerter at the 1972 and 76 Olympics

                  El Guerrouj vs Geb in the 5K

                  Warmerdam in any Olympics

                  My favorite: Rafer Johnson vs Bob Mathias - 1956 Olympics (by the way, who was better Johnson or Mathias?)

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                  • #10
                    Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

                    In the early 90s, when Geb was still on his way up and Kiptanui was dominating the steeple as well as the 5k, I thought a matchup between Morceli, Gebreselassie, and Kiptanui at 3000m would have been worth pay-per-view status.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

                      Pre vs. Liquori in the 5000 in 1977.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

                        > Shorter vs. Cierpinski

                        Rain, rather than drugs, might have made the difference in 1976. Shorter was a toe-striker and was heard to complain afterward that his feet were slipping on the Montreal streets.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

                          I always wanted to see Michael Johnson and Wilson Kipketer go at it over 600m.

                          When Wilson set the 800m WR indoors, he floated through 600 in 1:16ish, and I remember once watching MJ let up with what seemed like the entire stretch to go and still running 45-point in a 400.

                          Comments?

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                          • #14
                            Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

                            Pre vs Viren Montreal 1976 :-((((

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                            • #15
                              Re: Greatest Match That Never Happened

                              If Viren ate Rod Dixon's lunch (Dixon being the 1500 bronze medalist at the '72 Games) in the last 200, imagine what he would have done to poor little Stevie.

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