Who is the fastest human you ever saw run from a reasonably close distance (either against, trackside, or a close bleacher seat)?
Not having attended the Mobil's at George Mason U. where there have been burners, I'm thinking the fastest sprinter I've seen up close was Kirk Baptiste at the Howard Relays circa 1989. Olympian Larry Shipp was a star at the Upper School at a boy's school while I was in the middle grades.
Unlike my best friend, I never played pickup basketball against Darrell Green, then the NFL's fastest man. He told me Green, in pursuit of a fast-breaking opponent was an absolute blur from the top of one key to the opposite.
Having just finished running a Distance Medley at the '81 Drake Relays, I was still on the infield during the running of the invitational 100. The event was won by Mel Lattney, but in lane #1 was Herschal Walker. Herschal ran within 24" of me as he passed running around a :10.2. It was amazing seeing a guy of hat size run so fast. At 150 lbs., I couldn't imagine stepping in front of that freight train and squatting to try and tackle the guy. Being that close to the action gives you a new appreciation and perspective of the physical gifts some possess.
Even though the past few British AAAs have been dire, the men's sprints always turn out some decent times. I've seen Chambers, MLF, Campbell, Malcolm, Gardener many a time battle it out over the 100m and the deuce.
I've also witnessed some indoor meets - WIC, Indoor Grand Prix, etc - usually guaranteed fast times at those meets.
What a cool race: Leamon King and Bobby Morrow!I've seen a lot of fast sprinters, none more memorable than Lewis or Tommie Smith. But the most dramatic race I recall was one night at Mt. Sac in the early '60's... Bob Hayes and Frank Budd in a 100 meter final. They were flying and Hayes was pulling away when Budd tore a hamstring, hopped and took a header at full speed! Tough image to shake. I think Budd never really regained form again. I was a kid, don't remember if it was an olympic warm up meet or an AAU championship.
I was sitting on the infield near the finish line when Harry Jerome was awarded a 10 flat at the Canadian Olympic Trials in Saskatoon in 1960. There were a number of coaches who would not reveal what their watches read because it was 9.9 and he could not have done that. I also saw Hayse in Tokyo, Johnson in the 88 Olympics, Lewis in LA and Greene several times among others. I still do not know who was the fastest.
Hayes - Budd was the 1962 AAU 100 yards race, won by Hayes in 9.3 (9.35 auto - just 0.04 quicker than the auto-time on his 9.1 in '63 !). It was Budd's last race and they had met just once before - at the Coliseum relays that year - won by Hayes (10.2) ahead of Budd (10.3) and Henry Carr (10.3)
I've seen a lot of fast sprinters over the past forty years, but one race that comes to my mind very quickly was the men's 4 X 100 relay at the East German vs. U.S. dual meet at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1983. When Carl Lewis got the anchor baton, he was probably three to four meters behind East Germany's Frank Emmelmann. I think Lewis won by .07 second. It was a thing of beauty. Lewis was not only so fast, but he was smooth and fluid. I may have seen faster sprinters, however that day remains with me as a great one.
By the way, in that meet, Udo Beyer broke his own world record in the shot put. Second place put was well over 71 feet. This was the first time anyone had put 71 feet and lost. Can you name the American who went over 71 feet and lost to Beyer in the L.A. Coliseum back in 1983?
Dave Laut is correct. Nice job.
Have you ever thought about how many great U.S. shot putters we have had over the past sixty years? Here's a guy who went 71' 9" and lost to a world record put and most people can't remember his name.
Maurice Peoples at AZ St Univ. 400 meter and 4x4. Anchored a 4x4 in which he was 100m behind after receiving the stick. He caught the lead runner by the 300m mark and won by 6 meters. Until Micheal Johnson he had the fastest 4x4 split in the high 42's. Also Dwayne Evans as a high school senior in the AZ state championship meet anchored a 4x4 with the same deficit. He caught the lead runner by the 200m mark and won by 5 meters. Dwayne went on to run in the '76 Olympic Games in the 200m as a 17 year old and won the Bronze medal.
Fastest Sprinters I ever saw in person was both Houston McTear at the 1979 Muhammad Ali Invitational Indoor meet held at the Long Beach Arena. Carl Lewis at the 1983 TAC Championships win he won the 100/200 double and the long jump.
Best Field Event would be the 1983 TAC Championships when Carl Lewis jumped 28'10 1/2" (the farthest jump at sea-level at the time).
Marlies Gorr of the GDR during the World Cup in Canberra, 1985. She won the 100m and anchored (I think!) their 4x100m relay team which set a new world record. I had the pleasure of meeting her after the meet and chatted briefly-my German was too atrociously rusty to extend the conversation!
I would like to also include Marita Koch who competed in this meet and broke the 400m world record in the most phenomenal long sprint I have ever seen.
At top speed, Carl Lewis was as fast as I've ever seen. I seriuosly doubt that at top speed anyone has ever run faster than Lewis. Many had better starts or could hold speed longer but at top speed Carl was the MAN.
I got to see Carl Lewis and Donovan Bailey go head-to-head on 4x1 anchor legs at Texas Relays in 1997. Lewis won, Bailey cramped up. (Funny how, a few weeks later in that infamous 150 against Michael Johnson, everyone accused MJ of faking a cramp, but no one accused DB of the same when it was obvious he was going to lose to CL. Not that I'm accusing him of anything, I was just bothered by the hypocrisy and/or short memory of the accusing fans.)
And speaking of MJ, I assume I saw him run the 200 at the Texas high school state champs in 1986, since I was there, but I don't remember him -- I'm sure I was distracted by Derrick Florence, who whipped him by 0.8. (20.5 vs. 21.3.) In fact, if my memory of the schedule is accurate, I may have taken the track in the class 3A mile immediately after his class 5A race finished.
Three thoughts about fastest person you THINK you ever saw.
1. Size matters. Think of a 747 in the glide path to landing. Say it's going about 250mph; it looks like it's just hanging there in the sky. If a P-51 was descending at 250mph it would look like a bat outta hell. (Why Houston McTear looked so incredibly fast even though bigger guys were running faster.)
2. It depends on how close to the track (maybe even specific lane) you are. The closer you are to somebody, the faster they look. (Using this criterion, I've never seen anything faster than Maurice Greene from a few meters away)
3. It depends on what part of the race you look at. Almost impossible to accelerate after 60m or so, but judgments about top-end speed are almost always made at the finish, where it's all about who's slowing down the least, not who's still getting faster or "kicking it into top gear."
I saw Bobby Morrow, Dave Sime, Ray Norton, Bob Hayes, Tommy Smith, Henry Carr, and Carl Lewis -- some pretty fast guys, so this one wasn't the fastest, but perhaps the most exciting sprint I ever saw was:
Forrest Beaty running 220 yards (longer than 200m by about .1 second) in 20.2 in high school. This was a mind-blowing performance when it was accomplished on a slow (by today's standards) dirt track in 1962. Beaty never improved much in college, but he was lightning in HS.
The fast time over the longer distance and on a slow track is very impressive. However, there are a couple caveats: It was a straightaway 220 (no turn), and it was hand timed. Still, Beaty was MOVING and it was extremely exciting to everyone present. Probably because I was close to the action (down on the infield next to the track), as gh points out above, but Beaty just LOOKED faster than anyone I'd seen.
Last edited by oldvaulter on Tue Mar 16, 2004 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.