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Tom Courtney circa 1956.

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  • Tom Courtney circa 1956.

    Does anyone know what happended to Tom Courtney after 1957? He was Olympic champion with a courageous, gutty, comeback effort in '56 Melbourne 800m(1:47.7) and I think he set a world record 880 in the L.A. Coliseum Relays @ 1:46.8. But I can't recall anything of note he did after that....

  • #2
    Re: Tom Courtney circa 1956.

    Courtney still ran in 1958. He won the AAU. Best time for the year was 1.46.8. He ranked 2nd in the World. However, he had regressed from his two super years of '56 and '57. I believe he was 25 in 1958, a normal retirement age for US athletes in those days.

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    • #3
      Re: Tom Courtney circa 1956.

      Hey, Tustin Flash! Wasn't it Tom Courtney's Olympic run that our high school coach had a recording about? It was Bob Richards describing that gutty, aching run to the finish... remember that? Take care, jhc

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      • #4
        Re: Tom Courtney circa 1956.

        my high school coach played the same recording for us in about 1959... remember Richards talking about Coutney's win over Derek Johnson after he had "completely run out of gas."

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        • #5
          Re: Tom Courtney circa 1956.

          Courtney was a college senior in '55; in that era, hanging on even the one more year for the Olympics wasnt' something everybody did. And the fact that he was still among the best in the world for two more years after his Olympic win is notable.

          My favorite Courtney story (don't know if it's apocryphal or not) is that he was supposedly the arm-wrestling champion of the '56 Olympic team, beating guys like O'Brien and Oerter.

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          • #6
            Re: Tom Courtney circa 1956.

            Sure sounds apocryphal to me.

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            • #7
              Re: Tom Courtney circa 1956.

              I'm pretty sure I read that story in an issue of T&FN that came out around the time of Melbourne. If I ever have time I'll go looking for it.

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              • #8
                Re: Tom Courtney circa 1956.

                Thanks for the responses guys...jhc68, yes, that is the tape Coach Noon loved to show to get us psyched up!

                I also wonder what those 50's top athletes are doing today : are they still involved with track at all, do any of them still keep fit after all these years? I saw a recent photo of Bobby Morrow and he looked terrible, fat and old...

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                • #9
                  Re: Tom Courtney circa 1956.

                  jhc68, I meant tape he played, not showed...i.e. audio tape.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Tom Courtney circa 1956.

                    I roomed with Tom Courtney's son in college, and we remain good friends to this day. Tom Sr. decided it was time to get a job and went to Harvard Business School. He has been a highly successful investment banker ever since. If he was the arm wrestling champ of the '56 team, I am not surprised. He was a powerfully built runner (no resemblance to Sebastian Coe), and he is the toughest, most determined, hard core person I have ever met, and I have know quite a lot of Olympic athletes. This is a quality I very much admire in him.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Tom Courtney circa 1956.

                      Courtney was a 400/800 type and definitely a powerful man. Get hold of the Olympic series on the 800 meters to see him. He also looked pretty fit for the interview that he gave several years later.

                      Although he would not have been anywhere as strong as strength athletes, arm wrestling requires experience and determination, which he had in spades. It may also be that as a runner and not a weight man, he didn't worry what happened to him in arm wrestling. Stronger men, finding that it wasn't going to be that easy and needing to save themselves for competition, may have just let him have his victory.

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