Friday, November 21, 2008

Dreams and Realizations

This photo, which I bought at an antique mall (incidentally, a former Safeway with the recognizable 70s architecture) in Edmonds, WA, has some cursive writing in blue ballpoint ink on the back. It reads:

See Page 31

McGuire & Tyus USA won easily which was an upset. Taken From Press Box. LA Coliseum. July 25, ‘64

Several things about this photo caught my attention right away. First, it looks like a professional photo of a race like one that might be featured in a newspaper. This may very well be the case, as any photos taken from a press box were probably taken by media photographers.

Wyomia Tyus and Edith McGuire are the runners who are mentioned on the back of the photograph. Both were very accomplished sprinters for Tennessee State University during the early 1960s and ran against each other for a long time. As a runner, Edith McGuire was formidable; in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, she had accomplished a huge feat by winning three gold medals in track in field while struggling with a sprained ankle. She was instrumental in gathering attention to the sport of women’s track and field as a competitive athletic sport. Up until the Olympics, Wyomia Tyus had never bested Edith’s time. The race shown here in this photo marks a changing point that never reversed itself, for either runner.

Prior to this particular track meet, the Soviet runners had been far and beyond the American runners, to the point of dominating the sport. This particular run was staged on a day when the Cold War was still raging; any victory from the Americans was surely an “upset.”

The race shown here was in July of 1964, and Wyomia went on to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in October, where she equaled Edith McGuire’s 100 meter World Record in the heats. She ended up beating Edith McGuire (for the first time ever) by two tenth’s of a second in the finals. She also won a silver medal in the 4 x 100m relay.

The following years, Tyus won numerous national championships in the sprint events, and a gold medal in the 200 m at the Pan-American Games. In 1968, she defended, and won, her title in 100 m. In doing so, she set a new World Record of 11.0 and became the first woman to retain the Olympic 100 m title. Wyomia also qualified for the 200 m final, and finished sixth. Running the final leg for the relay team, Tyus helped in setting a new World Record, winning her third gold medal.

Wyomia Tyus retired from amateur sports in 1968, after having become the first person to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 100-meter dash. She had been the only daughter of an encouraging dairy farmer father. Her mother was more reluctant, thinking that running was un-ladylike. Wyomia started with basketball, but started track and field high-jumping. She realized that she had talent for the sport and continued to international success.

Edith McGuire retired from athletics sooner than Wyomia; she stopped competing in 1965 to become a teacher. She had broken Wilma Rudolph’s record at the 200 meter-sprint in 1964’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Edith McGuire is the only American woman to hold three different National Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles at different times. She has been very successful since; he was a recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award for outstanding athletes who distinguished themselves in their careers. Ultimately, she did some humanitarian things by touring East Africa for the State Department. Now, along with her husband, Edith owns and operates three McDonalds restaurants in Oakland, California. She and her husband sponsor a program called “Hoop it Up For Education.”

The idea here is: no matter what your background and experience, a certain drive to achieve a goal can project you much further than you expected. Cheesy?

I should mention again: I bought a packet of photos at a run-down antique end-game kind of place, but it happened to include this gem. What do you have at home that should be in a trunk, wrapped against moisture and/or fire damage???

1 comment:

Linda S. Socha said...

Frightening thought...Way too much....Love this post. Thank you Ezekiel!