It was muggy and hot in Chicago on Thursday when the Pan American Games opened before a crowd of 40,000 people, with the flags of 24 nations and 5,000 doves (released en masse for the occasion) flying. On Friday the clouds blew in gray and fat and full of rain, but in Soldier Field the athletes ignored the weather and began 11 days of competition. Harold Connolly, the hammer thrower, lost a quarter inch from his winning throw when it was officially surveyed, fell into a first-place tie because of the missing quarter inch, and then into second place because of a technical ruling governing ties.
On Saturday, Greg Bell, the broad jumper who "psyched" his way to victory over the Russians in Philadelphia in July, was psyched himself. He lost proper cadence on his approach, ran off the runway, leaped from a bad angle and fouled his jump. He was never in contention thereafter. Irvin Roberson turned in a superlative leap of 26 feet 2 inches to beat Bell easily. Don Bragg, the Tarzan of the pole vault, wore a blister in his heel looking for transportation to the athletes' quarters but recovered to win the vault by a full foot.
On Sunday, competition suddenly heightened to a fine dramatic pitch in two superb races. Tom Murphy, hampered by a slow pace, bolted to the lead earlier than he had intended in the 800-meter race but had strength enough to hold off the West Indies' George Kerr by inches. Bill Dellinger, running 15 yards behind throughout most of the 5,000-meter run, charged Oswaldo Suarez of Argentina with a lap to go, and the two raced the last 400 meters like sprinters, with Dellinger getting to the tape first. But it would be more than a week before anyone would tote up the medals.