Abebe Bikila had won the marathon in Rome in 1960. He was the first athlete from sub-Saharan Africa to win gold. The Ethiopian was a pathfinder for the success of future athletes from the continent and he had achieved his success while running barefoot ! In 1964 he returned to the event in Tokyo & won for a second time. For this race he did wear shoes. There was not the circuit of high profile city marathons that exists today. the distance was rarely run & was still regarded as a dangerously long way to run. Bikila won the race in a new world record time. He proceeded to show his remaining energy with a display of calisthenics in the centre of the arena while the trailing athletes arrived to finish their race. it was an amazing display of showmanship by the first African superstar of athletics.
This dude escorting two dolly birds is Lynn Davies, a handsome young Welshman who had won gold in the long jump in Tokyo. He and walker Ken Matthews were our only track and field gold medallists. (We were good at walking in the 60s). Davies gatecrashed the Cold War showdown between the US champion Boston & the Russian Ter-Ovanesyan. On Sunday Britain won this event again for the first time since his success. He showed up on TV to add his knowledge and congratulations. 70 years old now is Lynn & he was looking pretty good still.
On his left arm is Mary Rand, the Golden Girl who won the long jump ( we were good at this too), gained a silver medal in the pentathlon and a bronze in the relay. Another British woman, Ann Packer, won an identical pair. Mary was (and is) film star gorgeous in a Julie Andrews, English rose kinda way. Nowadays she would be a marketing departments dream. Fortunately, in those more innocent times, though she became a public figure she was allowed to glow beautifully and to do the things she did so well on the track.
To Lynn’s right is Lillian Board. Lillian@s Olympic moment would come 4 years later in Mexico City. A powerful 400 metre runner she won a silver medal, losing the gold by just one tenth of a second. She was 19 years old & her future as a world ranked star was assured. Two years later she contracted cancer and she died just two weeks after her 22nd birthday. A tragic loss to not just the world athletic scene.
Don Schollander was the first American athlete to win 4 gold medals in one Games since Jesse Owens. He was the first of the multi gold winners in the swimming pool. The exploits of Mark Spitz, Ian Thorpe & Michael Phelps have made them conspicuous among the group of medal accumulators. You know, in athletics a 100 metre sprinter could not win the 400 metres, There are great athletes who have perfected one event while swimmers seem to be able to be the fastest in different styles of swimming. I am sure that this quartet are all outstanding athletes of their era but I remain unconvinced that such a dominance being turned into a facility to acquire a fistful of medals is a true reflection of their place in the Olympic pantheon.