Here is a fun question to think about. If you could bring back only one athlete from the past (living or dead) to watch in person at their prime, who would that one athlete be? It can not be a current athlete. Please give your reason.
I will start with Emil Zatopek. I have a long love the distance races and I met Zatopek twice, but I was too young to ever see him compete. What a great competitor. Name your one athlete out of the past.
As somebody else said, "ONLY ONE?!" Way tough. witih apologies to Hayes, Snell and Brumel, it'd have to be Tommie Smith. Probably no coincidence that all of those are pretty much of the same era; guys I saw a lot of on TV but just missed seeing compete live.
I can tell a couple of guys here grew up watching track on The Wide World Of Sports. I remember scanning the TV Guide or Sports Section of the paper constantly - once I was bitten by the track bug, that is - to see if WWS would be airing track that weekend. Looking back, the coverage wasn't the best, but it was better than nothing, which is what we get most of the time. Hell, I'd say bring back Toomey and Boston as commentators as long as the meets are aired. That said, I think I'd like to see Ryun also. The mile is the glamour event. If it couldn't be Ryun - yes, I'm cheating, bringing up one more - then it would be Hayes, for the 100, the other glamour event, the one that even the man on the street understands.
Gee, I can't believe that no one said Owens. I think he's a bit overrated in the 100 (according to Maxwell Stiles, he was the world's #1 guy in the 100 only in 1936), but he's underrated in the LJ. I mean, he jumped 22'11" in the seventh grade! Add Jim Thorpe to the list.
I think that the personality has as much to do with the choice as the competition. For that reason, I'll agree with the choice of Zatopek. All the film I've seen his interviews reminds me of colorful old immigrants I've known.
If you're looking for colorful guys, how about Ellison "Tarzan" Brown. Two-time Boston Marathon winner. In Berlin, he picked a bar fight with some Hitler Youth -- the AAU had to bail him out of jail so he could run the Olympic marathon!
yep me too - the thrill of victory (for some reason I remember Gary Guebner ...sp?) being a spotlight guy back then - but I certainly remember Jim Beatty. To answer the ? - I would love to have seen Ryun in his prime. Without sounding ... I did run (or was in the same race) as he and Kip Keino in their first rematch after Mexico. When the real racing started (off a slow pace) the acceleration was ... somethin. This was after his prime ('70 I think). Everyone knows what he did - to everyone in that 2 yr span or so, in mid-latter 60s. Give him any competition and - Of course thats a fav pastime - match up dif greats of dif eras/generations. In fact that's what this is aint it ...
I recall Bert (or Cordner?) Nelson writing about an all time mile race - can't remember if it was in T&FN or elsewhere. He penned a stride by stride 'replay' ... his winner surprised me. (this was in 60s I think). Rewriting that might prove interesting if not impossible.
I'd like to see Juantorena at his peak run the 400 today. He ran his PR at the '76 Games after a horrendous week of heats and finals between the 800 and 400. His 44.26 was the fastest at sea level for years. If he hadn't run the 800, which he won in a WR 1:43.5, he probably would have broken 44, at sea level. Years before Butch Reynolds. I don't think he reached his potential at the 1 lap distance.
My first reaction was Zadopek and Nurmi as I too am a fan of distance. Having to pick one makes it quite difficult, but I would like to see Prefontane. I have a friend who ran in a cross country championship against him, what he remembers of the race is how quickly Pre put a gap on the rest of the field.
I'd like to see the 1967 Jim Ryun AGAIN--I will never forget Ryun's amazing acceleration as he ran away from another pretty good kicker (Oregon's Roscoe Divine) on the final backstretch of the NCAA mile at Provo, Utah.As I recall his final 220 was 25.7...a beautiful thing to see! I only wish Ryun could have built on his amazing 1967 form thru the late 60's, early 70's instead of being plagued by mono, hamstring injuries etc. etc.