Five Track & Field Vignettes: Worth Another Look

Red Shannon@@rojosportsFeatured ColumnistOctober 3, 2011

Five Track & Field Vignettes: Worth Another Look

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    Today's world of sports gives us the quick fix like a trip through the fast-food lane. In our haste to stuff ourselves and move on, we often miss the banquet set before us.

    What better time to pause and reflect on track and field's incredible legacy?

    These five videos present a little more than a quick highlight hit. Take an extra moment to soak up some of the savory substance behind the headlines.

Bob Beamon's Endless Flight

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    When it was over and the dust had settled, we swore Bob Beamon's new world record, which had eclipsed the old record by almost two feet, would never—could never—be beaten.

    Well...within only 23 years, Mike Powell soared two inches beyond Beamon's unbelievable leap. And now Powell's mark is 20 years old itself.

    Lesson learned: Never say "never" in track and field.

The Incredible Olympic Longevity of Al Oerter

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    In Al Oerter's case, it's not so much about a single moment. If possible, his defiance of the tape measure is overshadowed by his defiance of the hourglass.

    Perhaps even more amazing than Oerter's outstanding discus throws are his indomitable spirit and personal pride.

    These traits are the foundation blocks of Oerter's legendary Olympic-gold-medal run through four different Summer Games, 1956 - 1968.

Billy Mills' 10k Olympic Upset

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    No one took the crew-cut kid seriously.

    It was to be a race between Australian Ron Clarke and Mohammad Gammoudi of Tunisia. And sure enough, there they were, together at the bell lap.

    But the Sioux warrior, Billy Mills, had been quietly plotting and stalking the world's elite from his nightstand in his notebook for month's previous.

    And now, in the 10,000m final of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, he found himself elbow-to-elbow with the world's best.

    That last lap was down and dirty, but the kid had handled worse as a child. The final outcome is classic.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee Gives Back

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    Athletic fame comes at a cost.

    The price paid is always mandatory on the front end, but is only optional on the back end.

    Jackie Joyner-Kersee, one of the greatest all-around athletes ever, did not forget her roots.

Bob Seagren and Munich Pole Vault Controversy

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    Almost forgotten in the terror-stricken Munich Games of 1972 is the "equal access" issue raised by the East Germans.

    It was the introduction (and ban) of the new carbon-fiber poles. At the last minute, the Americans were forced to go back to older technology and in so doing, their eight-decades-long string of Olympic gold came to an end.

    Watch this artsy rendition of the competition from film-maker Arthur Penn  If it's too avante-garde, at least enjoy Hendrix' version of "Watchtower".

    Featured vaulters are Bob Seagren, Jan Johnson, Steve Smith and gold medalist, Wolfgang Nordwig.

    Thanks for visiting. Hope you enjoyed a deeper look.

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