Food for Thought

I am a track geek. In college, I devoured all sorts of athletics literature available at the Rizal Library. My favorite is Roberto Quercetani’s “A World History of Track and Field Athletics, 1864-1964.” I was awestruck at the feats of strength of modern athletics’ pioneers. They competed long before the days of sports science and modern amenities like the synthetic track and collapsible hurdles.

I am in dire need of a motivational boost. The Han Solo training routine is starting to get into my head at the most pivotal of times. What better way to pump oneself up than to read about the feats of the old champions?

Earlier today, I came across a rare clip of the sprint hurdles final at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. It was an American 1-2-3 finish, with Lee Calhoun winning the first of his two Olympic gold medals. His compatriot, Jack Davis, won his second silver medal in the event. Both stopped the clock at 13.5s, with Calhoun edging out Davis with a nifty dive to the tape, setting a new Olympic record in the process. Joel Shankle placed 3rd in 14.1s.

It was a heartbreaking loss for Davis. He missed out on the gold for the second consecutive time under similar circumstances. The legendary Harrison Dillard won gold four years earlier in Olympic record fashion.

To run 13.5s on a cinder track is simply amazing, especially for this Filipino hurdler. Not one Filipino had ever gone below the 14 second-barrier for crying out loud!

I’ve always loved thinking about hypothetical situations. My imaginative mind thrives on these fecund fields. Since hand-timing was the norm back in the days prior to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, I’ve often wondered how my humble personal best of 14.9s would place me among past Olympic champions. Reading through the list of Athletics Heroes, I would have won an Olympic title had I run my personal best at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. At the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games, my 14.9s time is good enough for a silver medal!

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