Herb Elliott, Australia's world champion, came to the U.S. three weeks ago to run a sub-four-minute mile. He finally managed it at the Compton Relays last Friday, but no one got very excited about it. For one thing, Herb was running with an ailing leg and it was certain that no new record would be set. For another, America's Jim Beatty had run a four-minute mile the week before when Elliott was sidelined with his injury. And finally, Herb had the misfortune to run his 3:59.2 mile late in the evening, toward the end of the best track meet of the year. Elliott's feat got only polite applause—because the 7,500 people packed in tiny Ramsaur Stadium in Los Angeles were already sated.
Item. Harold Connolly threw the hammer 224 feet 8½ inches, less than a foot short of his world record.
Item. Parry O'Brien, 11 pounds underweight after a siege of sinusitis, did 62 feet 8¼ inches to beat out Bill Nieder, crippled by a sore hamstring muscle in his thigh, who did 62 feet 5½ inches.
Item. Lee Calhoun, Olympic high-hurdles champion, won his specialty in 13.5 seconds, beating Hayes Jones by four yards.
Item. John Thomas, the world-record holder in the high jump, cleared 7 feet 1¼ inches, his 24th jump over 7 feet.
Item. Dave and Don Styron, twins from Northeast Louisiana State, won the 100-meter dash (Dave), the 220-yard low hurdles (Don), the 400-meter hurdles (Don), finished second in the 200-meter dash (Dave) and third in the 110-meter high hurdles (Don).
Item. Jimmy Beatty, who last week set a new U.S. citizen's record for the mile (3:58), broke the American record for the 5,000 meters by more than 12 seconds when he did 13:51.7.
Item. Deacon Jones, erratic as ever this year, consulted Beatty before the 3,000-meter steeplechase ("Get mentally ready," Beatty told him. "Think tough and don't lose contact. Don't drop back."), and then went out and won the race from Phil Coleman in 8:49.7, the fastest steeplechase ever run on American soil. Item. In only one event (the 880-yard run) did a winner in this meet fail to better the Olympic qualifying standard.
The biggest item
The peak of the evening was unquestionably the 5,000-meter run. Beatty, the small, strong-looking North Carolina boy who runs for the Santa Clara Valley Youth Village, and Laszlo Tabori, who trains with Beatty under Tabori's old Hungarian coach, Mihaly Igloi, were the featured entrants in an event about which, usually, Americans couldn't care less. But this time, in view of Beatty's superb mile the week before at Modesto, the 5,000 meters was watched eagerly.
Running again to the meticulous timetable which Igloi provides for his men in every race, Beatty and Tabori soon left the rest of the field laboring far behind. Trading the lead, lap by lap, the short, dark Beatty and the taller, blond Tabori hit the mile in 4:25, exactly on schedule, the two miles in 8:58, again on time. They hit the three-mile mark together in a dead heat at 13:28, but Beatty's wondrous finishing kick pulled him steadily away from Tabori as they rounded the last turn and he pounded down the stretch to win by seven yards.
Although his new American record is 16 seconds slower than Vladimir Kuts's world record of 13:35, it is the fastest 5,000 meters run in the world this year. Beatty's performance gives the U.S. hope in an Olympic event which most people were prepared to concede to a foreign runner. Both Beatty and Tabori were far under the Olympic qualifying time of 14:10, although this means little to Tabori, a Hungarian expatriate who is not yet a U.S. citizen, and hence is ineligible for the Olympics.
Elliott's mile came a little while after that race. The crowd, which had been noisy and appreciative throughout the whole 5,000 meters, came to life only on the last lap of the mile, when Elliott began his famous sustained kick. He ran very strongly, but without shaking off dogged Jim Grelle. Grelle fell back only gradually and finished a good second, six yards behind. His time was 4:00.1, also better than Olympic qualifying time.