Just wondering how many other of you posters out there were there in the L.A. Coliseum in 1964 for the USA Vs. USSR dual meet and thus saw Gerry Lindgren's amazing win over the Russian vets in the 10,000m.
To me it was electrifying to watch this 18 year old recent high school grad just run away with the race. Who would have thought? I'd enjoy hearing comment from others who were there how they felt as we collectively stood on our feet cheering in disbelief lap after astounding lap. At first I thought Lindgren had blown it and taken off too fast and too early, but as the race went on, it became apparent he was strong and they weren't going to catch him.
Also , this was back in the good old days when big crowds came to Southern California track meets. I would guess there was maybe 40,000 fans there...could someone (RHymans?) research that and tell us the attendance?
Don't get me started on Gerry Lindgren!! I began running in January 1962, my senior year at North Hollywood HS. I had no running heroes. That is, until early 1964, when I saw Gerry go up against Gaston Roelants in an indoor 2 mile. Gaston was the SC record holder, the best in the world, and here was little Gerry taking it out in about 61 seconds against an international superstar!! He eventually lost, but it was more Roelants showing what made him the best, than it was Gerry falling behind!! Besides Roelants, he also took it to the great Ron Clarke. Gerry ran 8:40.0 (the still-standing indoor two mile record!!), while Clarke edged him by just 2 seconds, with his 8:37.9.
I was at that 8:46 race. Then I saw Gerry again...he was now my first running hero....when he set the 5000 record at Compton against another international field!! We of course know that record stood for over 35 years!!
And yes, I was one of those 40,000 (??) at the LA Coliseum when Gerry beat the Russians!! I remember that mid-race lap of 61 seconds....something even some Kenyans or Ethiopians find it hard to do today, almost 50 years later!!! I was hoarse at the end of that race!! But it was so phenomenal!!
He injured his ankle prior to the Tokyo Olympics. (He'd run a 29:02.0 at the Trials to make the team at age 18.) If not for that, I feel certain Mohammed Gammoudi, Ron Clarke, and yes, Billy Mills, would have had to run the race of their lives to beat Gerry!!
In the entire history of distance running, Gerry's win against the USSR was one of the most, if not THE most, inspirational runs of all time!!!
(I only saw Gerry run one more time....his great 6 miler against Mills the following year in San Diego!! And I MET him when he came for a reading of his "memoir" at Village Books here in Bellingham a few years back!!)
I was in Augsburg in 1965 at the Leichtathletik-Länderkampf USA against Deutschland (yes, I know it ought to read West Germany, but I have the program from that meeting, where you can read Deutschland!)
Before the meeting I had the luck to see the Hotel, where the US athletes stayed, and by accident I happened to meet Jay Silvester or was it Randy Matson (I can't remember) outside and got an autograph and was invited inside the Hotel, where I meet all the other athletes from the US team (I had some statistics of my own about US Track with me, they all liked to look in), so I got all the their autographs.
Gerry Lindgren ran against Harald Norpoth and Bob Schul at the meeting, and of course he created the race, but couldn't run away from the fast finishing german Norpoth, who won the 5000 meter race in 13.47.8 to Lindgrens 13.50.4. Bob Schul finished fourth in 14.47.6!
Unfortunately, I've never seen any footage of Gerry Lindgrens victory against the Russians in 1964, but do have some 10 seconds from his world record 6 miles race against Mills at the AAU in 1965.
The 1964 Russian-American dual meet in Los Angeles was a great event and I was very lucky to have been there both days.
I'm not sure what the attendance was in Los Angeles, but it wasn't as much as they had at Stanford two years prior.
Of course Gerry Lindgren was a huge highlight for me (I was a distance runner). He won the race by about 22 seconds with the crowd going crazy.
For me, Dallas Long was the outstanding performer at the meet. He started with a foul and followed that with 65' 6 1/4" (second best in world history). His third put went 66' 9 1/4" which was a new world record. His fourth effort went 67' 10" for another world record. His fifth put went 67' 1" and his final put was 66' 5 1/4". That last put seemed pretty short, but remember that nobody had ever put 66 feet before this Los Angeles meet.
Fred Hansen vaulted 17' 4" for a new world record. Second place was 15' 11" by Dave Tork.
I always love the high jump and to see Valeriy Brumel was a thrill. He won at 7' 3 1/2".
It really was a wonderful two-day meet. There was a decathlon won by Vasiliy Kuznyetsov with 7,842 points and of course, there were women's events. Willye White jumped 21' 6" and became the second longest jumper of all time and she lost to the world record holder Tatanya Schelkanova.
Edith McGuire won the 100 and the 200 and of course went on to take the Olympic silver medal in the Tokyo 100 and the gold medal in the Tokyo 200. Edith was a member of the Track and Field News Olympic tour to London four months ago. She even did their post tour to Ireland. Edith is now married and lives in Oakland, California.
I wasn't at the 1962 Stanford meet, however I know several people who were there and from what I can gather, that was a fantastic meet, even better than Los Angeles in 1964.
Good memories from these posts from great 1960's meets..but, back to Gerry Lindgren.
I believe he may be the most amazing distance runner of all time that fits the model of the bumble bee that couldn't fly, but did. When you look at this scrawny, 5-6 125 pound kid, it's a wonder he could do what he did. My main regret re Lindgren is two fold: he never got a decent shot at running the marathon and that he was injured (ankle) right before the Tokyo, 1964 OG 10,000m...although Billy Mills may have still won it, it would have been a different race with Lindgren at his best in it.
Absolutely would have been a different race with a very healthy Gerry Lindgren. I always thought he could have medaled, but we'll never know. He would have had to beat Ron Clarke (28:25) to get a bronze. Gerry won the Russian meet in 29:17 and then ran 29:20 in Tokyo for ninth place. So, he would have had to run about one minute faster in order for an Olympic medal, but he was Gerry Lindgren and who knew what he could do?
I witnessed a bunch of Coliseum meets, but missed that one. I was hitchhiking through Europe that summer and followed track in whatever newspapers I could find over there. I have a memory of a photo of Gerry passing the Russian, and the Russian's eyes bugging out of his head as the little kid went by. I've looked for that picture on the interweb, but no luck. It was a classic.