It was very likely the best indoor track meet of all time. Ron Delany, who came only to win, had to break his own world indoor record to do it and, for one of the few times in his career, he circled the track at Madison Square Garden after his victory to cheers, not boos. Parry O'Brien, tastefully attired in shorts and a silk-net shirt, came to the only indoor meet he'll compete in this season to break his own world record, and he did. He set the tone for the evening on his first shotput, lofting the leather-covered ball 62 feet 1¾ inches to the accompaniment of a mighty grunt which seemed made up in equal parts of effort and satisfaction.
The first of the five world records which made this AAU Indoor Championships unique was set in the afternoon in the relative privacy of the Squadron A Armory, where 270-pound Bob Backus wheeled the 35-pound weight out 66 feet 2¾ inches to break a record he had set last season. John Thomas, the tall, almost wordless young man who seems bent on raising the high-jump ceiling into the rafters, bettered Russian Yuriy Stepanov's world outdoor record by skinning over the bar at 7 feet 1¼ inches. And before that a slight, fair young man named Bill Dellinger took almost nine seconds off the indoor record for three miles, doing the 33 laps in 13:37. Technically, his record was probably the best of the evening, but it was hard to differentiate among the set of five wonderful performances that made the meet memorable.
Tiptoeing into the tape, Ron Delany runs into a camera flash as he breaks his own world indoor record in the mile.
A satisfied smile lights the face of young John Thomas after record leap.
March 2, 1959
Old champ Greg Rice (left) looks on as Bill Dellinger signs new-record form.
Throwing his weight around brought new world record for hefty Bob Backus.
Tiptoeing to barrier, Parry O'Brien lofts shot to break on his first attempt the world indoor record he set last year.