(Fred G. Braitsch Jr./Stars and Stripes)

Tokyo, Japan, Oct. 14, 1964: U.S. team member and Army Sgt. Mel Pender (right) wins his qualifying heat in the men’s 100 meters. Due to an injury sustained off-track, Pender would finish tied for sixth in the final, collapsing from pain from the torn muscle in his side after crossing the finish line.

Pender would go on to win Olympic gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Although he again finished sixth in the 100, he won gold in 4×100m relay with Charlie Greene, Ronnie Ray and Jim Hines. Together they set a new world record of 38.24 seconds.

He would go on to serve with distinction in the Army. Having enlisted in 1954 at age 17, he served the first 11 years with the 82nd Airborne Division before graduating from Officer Candidate School in 1965. Sent to Vietnam for several tours, was awarded a Bronze Star and eventually became the head track coach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point before retiring from service in 1976 at the rank of captain.

Looking for more of Stars and Stripes’ historic Olympic coverage as you hype yourself up for this year’s Paris Games? Subscribe to Stars and Stripes’ historic newspaper archive! We have digitized our 1948-1999 European and Pacific editions, as well as several of our WWII editions and made them available online through

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