In a season of glamorous European imports, a leggy blonde from Germany named Jutta Heine landed on our shores last week and left the Mona Lisa sitting in the starting blocks. Fr√§ulein Heine is a sprinter, not a work of art in the conventional sense, but her esthetic qualities seemed to satisfy the 13,386 appreciative patrons in the Los Angeles Memorial sports arena on Saturday night. With a style that owes less to the Mel Patton-Bobby Morrow school than to a Las Vegas chorus line, Miss Heine did more in seven seconds to promote the sport of track and field than Parry O'Brien has done during his athletic life.
Jutta Heine is not the best woman sprinter in the world, only the most decorative, and she did not win the 60-yard in Los Angeles. But she was competing less than 48 hours after her arrival from Cologne and it was her first race indoors, over a distance much too short for her long stride. Furthermore, her feet hurt. Despite all this, she managed to attain the first and most important goal of a month-long American trip by beating her Olympic conqueror, Wilma Rudolph Ward, who is the best woman sprinter in the world. The only trouble is that while Jutta and Wilma were worrying about each other an unknown 18-year-old UCLA freshman named Marilyn White ran away from them both.
"I never saw her," said Wilma.
"I never heard of her," said Jutta. Neither had anyone else.
January 28, 1963
Hardly anyone in America has heard of Jutta Heine, for that matter—which is sad but eloquent testimony to the local status of women's track and field. Back home Miss Heine is the most famous athlete of her sex in Germany, and perhaps in Europe. At 19 she was a silver medalist in the 200 meters in Rome, behind Wilma, and she also anchored the German sprint relay team to second place. Last summer she won the European 200-meter championship in Belgrade, lost the 100-meter title to Britain's Dorothy Hyman by a pretty nose and ran on a silver medal relay team, making up all but a yard of a five-yard deficit against Poland's hurdles champion, Tereza Ciepla, on the anchor leg. For all of this she was awarded the Lorbeerblatt, a kind of Iron Cross in short pants and the highest medal a German athlete can receive. Now Jutta intends to concentrate on a new event for Tokyo, the women's pentathlon. It might be realistic to reserve a spot for her on the top step of the victory stand right now.
This would be a little frightening were not Jutta Heine about as close to a doll as a girl who stands six feet in her spikes can be. She was born Sept. 16, 1940 in Stadthagen, a little town outside Hanover in Lower Saxony, the oldest of three daughters of a wealthy attorney who does not like sports. "We are not millionaires, as some people think," Jutta says in her sometimes hesitant, but cultured, schoolgirl English. "'Millionaires, that is silly. I do not drive a Mercedes, I drive an Opel. My father gave it to me after Rome." When she was small, before the Opel, she had a horse named Fant and she loved to ride.
But every spring a strange thing happened. "I would get this feeling, you know," she says, pushing her blonde hair back out of her blue eyes. "I would want to run. We had a house in the country, and I would run through the woods and across the fields." By the time she was 14 she could outrun all her boy friends, which was not entirely a good thing. Today, while denying any serious romantic interest, she dates J√ºrgen Sch√ºttler in Cologne and Jochen Bender in Frankfurt. Both, fortunately, are sprinters.
By the time she was 17 Jutta was national youth champion in both the pentathlon and the 80-meter hurdles. But as she continued to grow she found that her stride had lengthened to almost seven feet and the hurdles were growing closer together. Since there was no pentathlon on the schedule in Rome, she decided to concentrate on the 200 meters. This has proved to be her best event, and at 18, in her first senior competition in the summer of '59, she won the national championship.
"Before the 1960 championships I was very lazy," she says. "'I went on a holiday to the North Sea and I did not run well. I finished second. So people did not think that I would do anything in Rome. I did not think I would do anything, either, and when I reached the 200-meter finals I was so happy I didn't care about anything else. I didn't even care if I finished last. So I was very relaxed and I ran very well. I had nothing to lose, you know.
"I don't remember too much about the race. Wilma was not so far ahead for a while, but then she went ooom. Like a Porsche. I did not expect to beat her; I never expect to beat her. She runs much too fast. I finished second, but I would like to race her again at 200 meters. I believe I am much stronger now than I was at 19."
After the 1960 Olympics, Jutta completed high school and went off to the University of Cologne to study economics. Until this winter she had never trained in the off season, preferring to devote her spare time to watercolors of flowers and small animals. "I do not like to paint landscapes or people," she says, "and I can only paint in the winter. In the summer, when I am training, my hand shakes. That is not good, you know, with water-colors. Anyway, I do not like to train very much. Every other weekend I go home to Kleefeld, which is just near Hanover. It is only 300 kilometers from Cologne, and I can drive home on the Autobahn in slightly more than two hours. The Opel has a top speed of 140 kilometers. How fast do I drive? Why, 140 kilometers, of course."
In December the AAU invited Jutta and Vera Kummerfeld, the German 800-meter Olympian, and Maria Jeibmann, a 400-meter runner, to come to America for a series of meets and clinics designed to increase interest in women's track and field. "I have been to Italy and Portugal and Spain and Russia and Ghana and London and Belgrade and Prague," says Jutta, "and this summer I am going to South America. And this fall to Tokyo. But I have never been to America, so I said that I would come." Kummerfeld and Jeibmann, who are older and have husbands, had retired, but they wanted to come to America, too, so they unretired and began to train. "At first they told us we would leave on January 15," says Jutta, "so I began to train very hard. Then we heard January 30, so I did not train so hard. Then we were told January 17, so I began to train again. I don't think it will make much difference. I have worked mostly on my starts, but they are not good, and 60 yards—that is much too short. I am afraid that I will be a disappointment."
When Jutta arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday night she disappointed hardly anyone, primarily because hardly anyone was there to meet her. She was awakened just before noon the next day by Wilma Rudolph, who dropped by the room to say hello. "I've been training hard," said Wilma, whose idea of hard training wouldn't make New York Fats catch his breath. Both girls agreed that neither could possibly win at 60 yards. "I like Wilma," said Jutta after her rival had gone. "She is very frank and sincere. I always know what she is thinking, and I like that."
After lunch a family very big in southern California women's track picked up the three German girls and took them halfway to Bakersfield for a short workout. The press was discouraged from attending, although no one could figure out exactly why. At 8 o'clock Jutta had her usual dinner—steak, without potatoes or vegetables or salad, and chocolate candy for dessert—and went to bed. At 11 o'clock someone called up and invited her to a party. "He said he was a hurdler," Jutta smiled, "but I was sleepy."
Jutta still looked sleepy when she arrived at the arena the next night, an hour before the first heat of the 60. In a blue and white sweat suit bearing no emblem, she jogged around the banked board track with Wilma and Edith McGuire, another Tennessee State sprinter. Jutta's head was cocked to one side as if thinking, her hair bouncing on her head. She changed her shoes and rubbed her aching feet with liniment. She watched while Edith won the first heat in 7.1, two-tenths of a second over Wilma's meet record, and while Wilma won the second heat in seven seconds flat. Then Jutta peeled off her sweat suit to expose a brilliant red jersey, bearing the ASV initials of her Cologne sports club, and a pair of white running shorts out of which protruded the longest pair of legs north of the high jump.
Jutta was off with the gun, but Marilyn White was quicker and the little Los Angeles girl hit the tape first in seven flat. Jutta trailed by almost two yards. "It was all right," she said, as she prepared for the finals. "I was only running to get second and qualify." She looked down the gleaming yellow board straightaway. "Sixty yards," she said again, thoughtfully. "That is not very far."
In the finals Jutta drew lane No. 2, with Wilma just to her right. To the right of Wilma was Marilyn White. And why neither Wilma nor Jutta could see Marilyn during the race is surprising, since she was right there, two yards ahead of them all the way. Wilma was second until the last few yards, then the German girl's long stride began to close the gap; Jutta edged past Wilma by inches at the tape, and both were timed in 7.1. Marilyn White, who watched this meet from the stands last year and had never run seriously until last March, equaled Wilma's record of 6.9.
Later Fred Jones, who coaches the Los Angeles Mercurettes, said that he felt Marilyn White could beat Wilma or Jutta or any other girl in the world at any distance from 50 to 440 yards. Had she ever run against Wilma before, someone asked. "Yes, in the nationals at the Coliseum last summer," Jones said. "She was fourth in a heat when Wilma ran 10.7. She didn't qualify for the finals. But that was last year." How fast can you run the 100 now, Marilyn was asked. She giggled and grinned. "I don't know," she said. "Coach doesn't tell me." Coach wouldn't tell the press, either. "You'll be startled when you find out," he said.
Wilma only shrugged. "She was very good," the triple Olympic champion said, "but I am not going to run any more 60-yard races. I thought I was second. Well, Jutta and I will run again in Louisville on February 16 at 70 yards, and then we'll find out. But she ran very well."
Jutta was relieved that it was all over. "After the heats, you know, I was really frightened," she said. "I was nervous. I told myself that I could just go home. But now I'm looking forward to running in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. And in Louisville. Against Wilma again."
Fortunately or unfortunately, Marilyn White will not be there. But then Jutta Heine does not need Marilyn, nor does she even need Wilma Rudolph. She has brought a kind of entertainment to American track and field that it has lacked before, and while she can run very fast, for a girl, she also has very lovely eyes and legs, for a girl. The East Germans should tear down that wall. They don't know what they're missing.