Most Hyped head-to-heads


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Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Gabriella » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:06 am

We saw some great head to heads in London, but which stand out as the most media hyped clashes in our sport? Let's revisit some of these and discuss.

If we can keep this to press and media hyped head to heads, rather than personal anticipation, there will still be many for us to discuss.

I'll start with a classic then one of my favourites.

Carl Lewis vs Ben Johnson - Mens 100m, Rome 1987 (I'll leave 88 to someone else :) )
Carl Lewis had for long been THE star in athletics, but Johnson had become the most consistent 100 runner during 1986 and had beaten Lewis 4 times leading up to Rome. Johnson had beaten Lewis in Zurich 86, and Lewis had accused the Canadian of turning his back on him and not shaking his hand. The athletics press was having a field day with this rivalry and it was great for the event. The big US star, likened to Michael Jackson by much of the British press, versus this understated Canadian. Come Rome and Johnson was the favourite on form, but many believed Lewis's championship pedigree would tell. In the SFs Johnson ran a comfortable 10.15 shutting down early, while Lewis ran a CR in the second, significantly faster. Come the final, the tension was electric. But Johnson blasted out of the blocks for a clear lead and was never caught, smashing the WR and beating Lewis, who was also under the old WR, by 1/10th. But straight after the race the press focussed on Johnson's start, and the rumours were that his start was illegal and that no human could react so quickly. Lewis himself accused Johnson of making a FS. It meant that going into 1988 the hype was even greater...
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Gabriella » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:17 am

Heike Drechsler vs Ghada Shouaa vs JJK vs Sabine Braun - Womens heptathlon 1995 Gothenberg
JJK had for long been the undisputed Queen of the hepathlon, unbeaten between 85 & 90. But she'd been pushed by Braun in 93, the German just 40 pts adrift & in 94 the American's form dropped further with 6606, her worst score since LA. That same season, Heike Drechsler made a sensational return to the event scoring a WL of 6741, while Braun also bettered the American's score. Going into 95 the question was whether Drechsler would enter the heptathlon in Gothenberg. She made a statement saying she wouldnt as the German qualifying was too early, but was spotted training for the heptathlon in Lanzarote, Athletics Weekly saying "unless she wants to take an 800m run up in the Longjump". Braun & Beer had qualified so there was one spot left, but no other German could break 6000 so Drechsler was given a BYE. The German press had a field day, Brauns coach accusing the whole thing of being a circus, though Braun gamely said she was glad HD was on the start line. While this was all happening, JJK scored her lowest score for many years, 6375w & was just not in form, while relatively unknown Ghada Shouaa dramatically won in Gotzis with a WL of 6715, beating Braun, 6617. What would have been prior to sept 94 a JJK vs Braun clash in Gothenberg, now became a possible 4 way clash. The IAAF focussed on Drechsler vs Shouua, using both in their promotional material for Gothenberg, saying it was a "clash of worlds". The German press focussed on Drechsler vs Braun & who would reign supreme, but in interviews Drechsler said that JJK was the favourite while Braun said it looked like two Germans would be on the podium. The British & American press focussed on JJK vs Drechsler. Bobby Kersee welcomed the challenge and was very sporting in his praise for Drechsler. JJK said she thrived on this fresh challenge. Opinions were divided as to who was the favourite; some believing JJK would never be beaten while others thinking Drechsler had the edge.
Come Gothenberg and the event became a damp squib. JJK pulled out before the event started after a poor LJ & returned to the States. Drechsler fouled out in the LJ & faced enormous pressure in the heptathlon. She nearly fell after the first hurdle, spiked herself in the HJ & further injured the same foot in the SP, pulling out before the 200m. Braun had started well but injured her hand on the High jump side bars, so pulled out before the SP. In fact, no German finished the multi event competition in Gothenberg!
(Drechsler went competed in Talence, ironically scoring the same score as JJK’s best that year, 6375!)
Ghada Shouaa won in Gothenberg 6651, the lowest in the events history. The Syrian showed her pedigree the following year, scoring 6942 in Gotzis then winning the Olympic title.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby nevetsllim » Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:00 am

Pistorius vs. Wariner in Sheffield 2007. It was billed as some sort of fastest man on legs vs. fastest man on no legs race but Wariner decided he didn't want to run in the rain and pulled up at the start pretending he thought he heard a recall gun while Pistorius, who was dead-last, was eventually disqualified for a lane infrangement. I think Angelo Taylor ended up winning outside 45sec.

It probably wasn't the most hyped up race of all-time but it was all rather farcical.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Pego » Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:23 am

Two that went ad nauseam.

Dan vs Dave in 1992
Greene vs Johnson 200 in 2000
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby tandfman » Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:34 am

Bannister-Landy, 1954
Ryun-Liquori, 1971
Coe-Ovett, 1980
Lewis-Powell, 1991
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Cooter Brown » Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:56 am

Johnson vs Bailey 150m World's Fastest Man showdown. Epic fail all around.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:03 pm

Do not know about the hype, but Johnson/Yang for the 1960 decathlon was a pretty darn good competition.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby gh » Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:00 pm

dj is probably the only guy around who can come up with the proper istorical perspective, but I suspect that in terms of the "national consciousness" that virtually all the great matchups happened in the ’20s and ’30s and are beyond our ken.

Did anybody mention McGrady/Evans in the indoor 600 yet? (I suspect most of the historically great matcups are in NYC, simply because of the overwhelming presence of Big Apple media concentration)
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby tandfman » Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:46 pm

gh wrote:Did anybody mention McGrady/Evans in the indoor 600 yet?

That was a fabulous head-to-head, but I don't remember it being as hyped as much as some of the mile head-to-heads of earlier years or the sprints of more recent years.

One indoor hyped head-to-head was the mile rivalry between Fred Wilt and Don Gehrmann in the early '50's.

Edited to fix typo.
Last edited by tandfman on Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby cullman » Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:08 pm

John Thomas vs Valery Brumel was made into a Cold War battle in the press between 1961-3.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Flumpy » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:02 pm

Gabriella wrote:Heike Drechsler vs Ghada Shouaa vs JJK vs Sabine Braun - Womens heptathlon 1995 Gothenberg


Bizarrely I don't remember any of this. :?
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby dj » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:16 pm

cullman wrote:John Thomas vs Valery Brumel was made into a Cold War battle in the press between 1961-3.


As was Boston v Ter-Ovanesyan.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby lonewolf » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:38 pm

tandfman wrote:
gh wrote:Did anybody mention McGrady/Evans in the indoor 600 yet?

One indoor hyped head-to-head was the mile rivalry between Fred Wilt and Don Gehrmann in the early '50's.


Mention of the 600 and Wilt brings a chuckle to my memory.
About 25 years ago, competing in the National Masters Indoor at either Ohio State or Wisconsin, although it was out of my competitive range, I entered the 600 and found myself lined up next to Fred Wilt.
As Wilt pulled away in the early stages of the race, I remember thinking, 'One of us doesn't know how to run this race, he's gotta come back'. About a minute later we knew which.. :)
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Pego » Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:11 am

dj wrote:
cullman wrote:John Thomas vs Valery Brumel was made into a Cold War battle in the press between 1961-3.


As was Boston v Ter-Ovanesyan.


Connolly-Krivonosov in the fifties with Olga Fikotová spicing the story.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Per Andersen » Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:20 pm

Tom Courtney against Roger Moens was a highly anticipated duel in 1957.

Here we had the WR holder against the current Olympic champ and US record holder.
Moens, theWR holder had not competed in Melbourne and this race at Bislet was their first meeting. In a tremendous race involving all three medal winners from Melbourne Moens showed his class an beat Courtney as he had predicted. (Moens never lacked confidence). Winning time 1.46.2. Less than 2 weeks later Courtney returned to Bislett and without Moens in the field ran 1.45.8, just 1/10 from Moens' WR.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby etuoyo » Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:24 pm

Flumpy wrote:
Gabriella wrote:Heike Drechsler vs Ghada Shouaa vs JJK vs Sabine Braun - Womens heptathlon 1995 Gothenberg


Bizarrely I don't remember any of this. :?


Lol me neither. In fact I am struggling to remember Drechsler as a heptathlete.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby gh » Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:04 pm

dj wrote:
cullman wrote:John Thomas vs Valery Brumel was made into a Cold War battle in the press between 1961-3.


As was Boston v Ter-Ovanesyan.


I didn't even live in the U.S. at the time, but I can't remember two battles that stick more vividly in my mind than these two.

(and from earrrrly in my childhood, like at 7, I do know there was a huge Bannister-Landy thingie a few miles down the road)
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby rhymans » Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:25 am

I think there is a difference between great head-to-heads and "most hyped". The Donovan Bailey-Michael Johnson meeting over 150m was heavily publicised, but was just a money race.

Some great rivalries were not particularly hyped -
Yuriy Sedykh-Sergey Litvinov
Rudolf Harbig-Mario-Lanzi
Gunder Hägg and Arne Andersson
Jesse Owens-Ralph Metcalfe
Herb McKenley - George Rhoden
Betty Cuthbert - Marlene Mathews

Some were too brief-
Vladimir Kuts - Gordon Pirie
Jesse Owens-Eulace Peacock
Irena Szewinska - Marita Koch
Alberto Juantorena - Mike Boit
Jack Davis - Lee Calhoun
Glenn Davis - Eddie Southern

Others seemed generally too one sided
Paavo Nurmi - Ville Ritola
Charley Paddock - Jackson Scholz [the former was master of self publicity, while the latter actually led the rivalry]

I could go on, but I'd probably put you all to sleep.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby tandfman » Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:44 am

rhymans wrote:I could go on, but I'd probably put you all to sleep.

Not at all. If this were the message board of the Daily Mail, perhaps so. But here? Don't be silly. This is the stuff that gets our juices flowing. Please continue.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby bambam » Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:25 am

And one that never happened for very stupid reasons was John Walker v Filbert Bayi at the Montreal Olympics
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby George Matthews » Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:04 am

Liu Xiang v Oliver v Robles in the 110H was the most eagerly anticipated race leading up to the 2011 worlds along with the mens sprints, and yet none of them won.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby KDFINE » Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:48 am

Nieder - O'Brien
USA - USSR 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1964
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby George Matthews » Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:05 am

and the 1985 meeting in London over 3000 between Mary Slaney and Zola Budd was an exercise in hype and excess that only the dreaded Mobil Grand Prix series could possibly have created
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby ATK » Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:37 pm

Bolt - Bekele over 600m in 2009...
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby ajp » Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:26 pm

gh wrote:
dj wrote:
cullman wrote:John Thomas vs Valery Brumel was made into a Cold War battle in the press between 1961-3.


As was Boston v Ter-Ovanesyan.


I didn't even live in the U.S. at the time, but I can't remember two battles that stick more vividly in my mind than these two.

(and from earrrrly in my childhood, like at 7, I do know there was a huge Bannister-Landy thingie a few miles down the road)



Landy-Bannister received great hype for the time, it being referred to as the "Dream Mile". It was televised live in its entirety (at least in NY) which just about ruined all subsequent track telecasts for me. Other greatly hyped confrontations were the Gunder Hagg - Arne Andersson mile races in the early 1940s.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby ajp » Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:37 pm

rhymans wrote:I think there is a difference between great head-to-heads and "most hyped". The Donovan Bailey-Michael Johnson meeting over 150m was heavily publicised, but was just a money race.

Some great rivalries were not particularly hyped -
Yuriy Sedykh-Sergey Litvinov
Rudolf Harbig-Mario-Lanzi
Gunder Hägg and Arne Andersson
Jesse Owens-Ralph Metcalfe
Herb McKenley - George Rhoden
Betty Cuthbert - Marlene Mathews

Some were too brief-
Vladimir Kuts - Gordon Pirie
Jesse Owens-Eulace Peacock
Irena Szewinska - Marita Koch
Alberto Juantorena - Mike Boit
Jack Davis - Lee Calhoun
Glenn Davis - Eddie Southern

Others seemed generally too one sided
Paavo Nurmi - Ville Ritola
Charley Paddock - Jackson Scholz [the former was master of self publicity, while the latter actually led the rivalry]

I could go on, but I'd probably put you all to sleep.



Two more of the greatest (before we all go to sleep) -Jack Lovelock and Glenn Cunningham in the 1933 Princeton Invitational (I was too young to remember much of this) and Jim Ryun and Kip Keino in the late 1960s.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Per Andersen » Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:29 pm

I suppose it can be debated how much of a rivalry Brumel/Thomas really was as Brumel pretty much owned him. I don't have the exact number where I am now but it must be around 15-1 in Brumel's favor.
But I probably can't quite comprehend the Cold War thing since we were used to see Soviet athletes compete in Scandinavia since 1953.

However, for two years, 1954 and 1955, the two best HJers in the world, Ernie Shelton and Bengt Nilsson had a real rivalry. Shelton finally got the upper hand but they both attempted 7ft on several occasions. In one competition Shelton actually turned his back as Nilsson attempted 7ft.
He couldn't stand to see his rival beat him to 7ft.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Olli » Sat Oct 06, 2012 10:30 pm

As an example of *posthumous* hype, one might add Prefontaine-Viren. On the basis of some Internet discussions, it seems that many Americans imagine that it was a great distance-running rivalry in the 1970s, even though such rivalry hardly existed at the time. (For Viren, Prefontaine was just one of several opponents in several Olympic races.) This fictional rivalry seems to be the product of a couple of movies featuring Prefontaine's story (which I have not seen).
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby gh » Sat Oct 06, 2012 10:45 pm

Per Andersen wrote:I suppose it can be debated how much of a rivalry Brumel/Thomas really was as Brumel pretty much owned him. I don't have the exact number where I am now but it must be around 15-1 in Brumel's favor.
But I probably can't quite comprehend the Cold War thing since we were used to see Soviet athletes compete in Scandinavia since 1953.

However, for two years, 1954 and 1955, the two best HJers in the world, Ernie Shelton and Bengt Nilsson had a real rivalry. Shelton finally got the upper hand but they both attempted 7ft on several occasions. In one competition Shelton actually turned his back as Nilsson attempted 7ft.
He couldn't stand to see his rival beat him to 7ft.


The key to this question is the "hyped" in the subject line: that means that the reality of the situation is somewhat irrelevant. I was pimply-faced teenager living in Canada at the height of the Brumel/Thomas "rivalry" and I knew it as one of the most important on the planet. And I wanted the American guy to beat the godless Commie in the strongest of ways.

Within a few years, however, I came to view Brumel as the event's greatest ever. A view that I still hold true to today. I don't have time to look it up late on a Saturday night, but what was it, 3-4 years that he was never outjumpd in any meet? Forget absolute heights. He dominated the event in a stunning-stunning fashion. And with a style that sticks in your mind forever if you've seen the films.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby telf » Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:25 am

Lots of great memories and funny how many of the rivalries previously mentioned were quite one-sided once they had run their full course.

One my favourites from the '70s was Malinowski v Garderud.

For me, the best head to head rivalries occur when participants are divided by running tactics and/or background and/or likeability
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby bekayne » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:14 am

ajp wrote:
Landy-Bannister received great hype for the time, it being referred to as the "Dream Mile". It was televised live in its entirety (at least in NY) which just about ruined all subsequent track telecasts for me.


Can anyone name a sporting event in which no American athletes were involved that received more attention in the US? Other than a World CUp soccer final maybe.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Conor Dary » Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:58 am

gh wrote:

Within a few years, however, I came to view Brumel as the event's greatest ever. A view that I still hold true to today. I don't have time to look it up late on a Saturday night, but what was it, 3-4 years that he was never outjumpd in any meet? Forget absolute heights. He dominated the event in a stunning-stunning fashion. And with a style that sticks in your mind forever if you've seen the films.


Beautiful to watch. And one of greatest of all time in any event.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Conor Dary » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:13 am

On the marathon side, I remember Ron Hill and Jerome Drayton being sort of a big deal when they met in Boston 1970.

Image
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby cullman » Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:58 pm

Almost forgot the Keino vs Ryun match up in 1968.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby ajp » Sun Oct 07, 2012 6:53 pm

gh wrote:
Per Andersen wrote:I suppose it can be debated how much of a rivalry Brumel/Thomas really was as Brumel pretty much owned him. I don't have the exact number where I am now but it must be around 15-1 in Brumel's favor.
But I probably can't quite comprehend the Cold War thing since we were used to see Soviet athletes compete in Scandinavia since 1953.

However, for two years, 1954 and 1955, the two best HJers in the world, Ernie Shelton and Bengt Nilsson had a real rivalry. Shelton finally got the upper hand but they both attempted 7ft on several occasions. In one competition Shelton actually turned his back as Nilsson attempted 7ft.
He couldn't stand to see his rival beat him to 7ft.


The key to this question is the "hyped" in the subject line: that means that the reality of the situation is somewhat irrelevant. I was pimply-faced teenager living in Canada at the height of the Brumel/Thomas "rivalry" and I knew it as one of the most important on the planet. And I wanted the American guy to beat the godless Commie in the strongest of ways.

Within a few years, however, I came to view Brumel as the event's greatest ever. A view that I still hold true to today. I don't have time to look it up late on a Saturday night, but what was it, 3-4 years that he was never outjumpd in any meet? Forget absolute heights. He dominated the event in a stunning-stunning fashion. And with a style that sticks in your mind forever if you've seen the films.



The Brumel-Thomas rivalry, though a bit one sided as it may have been, was a "real" rivalry and was hyped before every indoor confrontation in all the NY newspapers. Of course it was the "cold war" thing. Brumel's jumping was unforgetable. A proponent of the dive straddle, as were many others at the time, Brumel seemed to bounce higher and approach faster -he seemed to fly off the takeoff.
Brumel was relaxing in the front row of Madison Square Garden before the competition began one early evening when my then petite wife slithered past him and accidentally spiked him with her high heel. He grunted, then smiled as she apologized with great embarrassment, and I could not help thinking that it hurt, but only when he laughed. True story.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Gabriella » Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:59 am

rhymans wrote:I think there is a difference between great head-to-heads and "most hyped". The Donovan Bailey-Michael Johnson meeting over 150m was heavily publicised, but was just a money race.



So I'm definitely after 'most hyped' as opposed to great head-to-heads, where the media and sport has hyped a clash leading up to the event or during a champs.

The Bailey-Johnson meeting over 150m is a great example. The whole 'who is the worlds fastest man?' debate was very intriguing at that time, Johnson challenging the traditional view that the 100m champion was the fastest man alive.

What was the hype like in the US or Canada? In the UK it was taken fairly seriously, though there was a debate as to whether this was more circus than athletics. I remember British TV showing the event live (from memory it was ridiculous hour) with the other head-to-heads building up to the big event. But, as often happens, what a disaster.
The women's 100mh saw an obvious false start, failed recall, Engquist hesitate, Freeman steam ahead, only to lose her balance and allow the Swede to come through at the end. Okkert Brits totally doiminated Lawrence Johnson, 5.90 to 5.75; Charles Austin domninate Patrick Sjoberg, 2.30 to 2.20, and Heike Drechsler beat JJK 6.82 to 6.79.
Come to the main event, Johnson pulls up at 85m, clutching his leg, Bailey slowing as he crossed the line in 14.99, turning and taunting Johnson. Bailey would later claim Johnson 'chickened out' but Johnson refused to take the bait. But if anything, it was clear Bailey was the more concerned party before the race, insisting it had to be in Canada, claiming the curve was the wrong length and angle, threatening to drop out countless times.
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Re: Most Hyped head-to-heads

Postby Gabriella » Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:14 am

Flumpy wrote: Bizarrely I don't remember any of this. :?


Pah, call yourself an avid fan? :D Still have your collection of AWs? If so, go back to the 1995 season, there were plenty of articles and in the iAAF promotional material. There was much hype on Eurosport too and German TV brought in Heidi Rosendahl to comment on the event.

But, I think the fact that you don't remember is because, as gh says, more often that not these things end up being complete let-downs!
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