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  • Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

    For whatever reason I always root for the underdog in almost any sporting event, and love it when I get to see a big upset. I'm young and somewhat new to the sport of Track & Field, so I'm wondering what others think are the biggest upsets or surprise finishes in the history of Track & Field. They have to be underdog victories, not just suprise performances (i.e. MJ's 19.32 200m "surprise" in Atlanta doesn't count because he was already the favorite). Here's a list of some of my favorites (I'll admit it's rather limited and biased towards the sprints/jumps since they're my specialties)...

    100m:
    - 1995, Little known Damien Marsh (AUS) defeats practically all of the world's elite in the 100m at the IAAF Grand Prix Final in Monte Carlo.
    - 2001, Zhanna Block (UKR) defeats "unbeatable" Marion Jones (US) in the World Championships 100m final.

    200m:
    - 1988, Joe DeLoach (US) defeats heavily favored Carl Lewis (US) in the Olympic 200m Final, setting an American and Olympic Record in the process.

    400m:
    - 1998, Mark Richardson (GB) defeats "unbeatable" Micheal Johnson (US) in the 400m at Oslo, Norway. (Johnson's first loss in...well, forever).

    Long Jump:
    - 1991, Mike Powell (US) defeats Carl Lewis (US), who hadn't lost a competition in like 10 years, breaking Bob Beamons 23 year old "unbreakable" world record.
    - 1996, Carl Lewis (US) wins his 4th Olympic Gold Medal on his last jump, beating a field almost 10 years younger than himself.

    and my vote for the BIGGEST upset in MY history...

    - 1991, Kris Akabusi (GB), a 400m hurdler, runs down Antonio Pettigrew (US), the world champion at 400m, on the anchor leg of the 4x400m relay, winning the World Championship gold medal for Great Britan.

  • #2
    Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

    Mills. Tokyo. 1964. End of story.

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    • #3
      Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

      >Mills. Tokyo. 1964. End of story.

      Ah, yes...I've seen clips of that one. I bit before my time, and I don't know the history behind it, but it looked very exciting. Thanks for the vote.

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      • #4
        Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

        The Mills race defines "surprise upset victory." Few other races can even come close to the Mills standard...

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        • #5
          Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

          Mills, then Lindgren (USSR-USA Meet). Same year, same distance. Lindgren was shocking and surreal, Mills was simply impossible.

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          • #6
            Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

            2 surprise Field OG defeats would be Thomas in '60 in the HJ and Boston in '64 in the LJ

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            • #7
              Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

              In the field, TWO Russians beat the WR holder John Thomas at the Rome High Jump in 1960.

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              • #8
                Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

                '400m:
                - 1998, Mark Richardson (GB) defeats "unbeatable" Micheal Johnson (US) in the 400m at Oslo, Norway. (Johnson's first loss in...well, forever).'

                Forever, for some, is relative since MJ lost at 400 meters in Paris the previous year in 97.

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                • #9
                  Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

                  200m - 2000 Sydney OG, Kenteris winning Gold coming back from behind within the race to win in 20.09s.
                  400m - 1988 Seoul OG, Steve Lewis leads early on, and just about hangs on to win from an ever fast finishing Butch Reynolds, running 43.87s in the process. All this at the age of 19!
                  1500m - 2000 Sydney OG, Noah Ngeny outsprints El G in the final 100m to win a suprise Gold medal in a new Olympic Record.
                  4x100m - 1964 Tokyo OG, I am not certainly sure thta this counts as an upset. But seeing Bob Hayes come back from 3m, to win by 3m at the finish, had to upset someone. Prehaps the Polish team???

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                  • #10
                    Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

                    >In the field, TWO Russians beat the WR holder John Thomas at the Rome High Jump
                    >in 1960.

                    this was probably the biggest upset I can remember on the field. JT had just jumped an unworldly 7' 3 3/4" (2.229m). He was considered absolutely untouchable, and had not had to "worry" about winning in his whole career. And he had missed any international competition up until then because he missed tghe entire outdoor season the prior year when he injured his foot in an elevator accident. Sure one or maybe unknown Soviet guys had jumped a tad over 7 feet/2.14 but JT could do better than thayt with his swaets on.

                    Then BAM ! He's "in the arena", in the Big Leagues for the first time ever. Robert Shavlakadze amd some kid named Brumel bop over 2.16 as JT has to practically kill himself to clear 2.14 on his 3rd try and squeak out a 3rd on fewer total misses from a 3rd Soviet.. Bolshov I think.

                    The US media went beserk at this "shocking" loss.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

                      Another field event come-from-behind that I just remembered...

                      Hammer - 1996, Lance Deal (US) finishes 9th by merrit of 2nd best throw in the qualifying round of the Olympic Games and believes that he missed the final. He is then allowed into the final because the "2nd best throw" rule doesn't apply to qualifying rounds. He then has an enourmous throw on his final attempt to claim the silver medal on home soil. Pretty exciting, and emotional.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

                        >In the field, TWO Russians beat the WR holder John Thomas at the Rome High Jump in 1960.<

                        I don't believe either of the guys who beat Thomas in 1960 were Russians. I think Shavlakadze was a Georgian and Brumel was Ukrainian.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

                          please note that I called them "Soviets" because yes, Shav was a Georgian... but I think Brumel was a Russian... but you may very well be correct.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

                            I am nearly certain that Brumel was Russian (so was Bolshoy).
                            My contribution, more esoteric, Hübnerová, HJ, 1968
                            "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
                            by Thomas Henry Huxley

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                            • #15
                              Re: Biggest T&F Upsets/Surprise Finishes

                              I stand corrected, of course. Shav, I do believe was Georgian. Brumel was born way out east in Siberia some where, coincidentally, on the same day as Ni-Chi Chin, who would be the first to (unofficially) break Brumel's WR. I assume that Brumel was ethnically Russian.
                              My original reference to "two Russians" was merely a throwback to the attitudes I held at the time as a kid... anyone with a USSR sweatsuit in 1960 was pretty much regarded as a Red-Menace, Godless-Commie Russki where I grew up in Orange County, California. My philosophy teacher at Santa Ana JC was the only member of the John Birch Society ever elected to Congress!!! Aside from the shock of the unbeatable John Thomas getting schooled by a couple of unknowns, the idea that he was humiliated by Soviets who probably wore black socks with walking shorts was almost too much to bear.

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