From the Stars and Stripes archives
By JACK ELLIS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 22, 1948
Champions are not always good sports but the 10-man track and field squad from the U.S. Olympic team that gave an exhibition before a scant 1,500 fans yesterday afternoon at the Frankfurt Athletic Club certainly earned the accolade of being named the best sports of the year in the EC. Performing under conditions that. were ideal only as far as the weather was concerned, they ran, threw and jumped as though the meet were real competition. Indeed, Richard (Boo) Morcom sailed over 14 feet 2 inches in the pole vault and took three attempts at the 14 feet 6 inch level, which was far more than was demanded of him.
The meet was run off under far worse conditions than the EC track and field championships as far as management and planning were concerned. Certainly the touring U.S. Olympic competitors deserved at least as much attention as our own athletes.
In two of the races the finish tape was missing and at one time the public announcer had to ask for the measuring tape, as the one that was supposed to be on hand was missing. The high jump and vaulting pit was only half filled with sand and Morcom, himself, picked up a shovel and helped to fill in the exposed part.
The final blow was to stand around and watch Carl Olsen, the U.S. team's coach, run the entire meet. He had to get the high jump started when none of the officials seemed to be in a hurry or the least concerned, even though it was 45 minutes past the announced starting time. Olsen, the track coach at Pittsburgh University, not only had to take care of his own team, but had to act as the chief clerk of the course and get every event started.
It was too bad it had to happen that way. It certainly could have been avoided by just a little planning and perhaps a little more work on the part of those who were supposed to do the work. We think it would have made a much better impression on the U. S. team if we had treated them like the champions they are instead of poor kin folks, who are on a one day visit from the country.
But like we say, the competitors who were invited to come to the EC were good sports. Harrison Dillard did everything that was expected of him. He ran the 110-high hurdles and won in the good time (considering the conditions of the track and hurdles) in 14.1, which beat his old EC record of 14.5 established in 1945. He followed it up by beating Barney Ewell in the 100 meters in the very good time of 10.4, although we suspect the timers may have been a little premature. Even Harrison was surprised at his times.
Fortune Gordien, the U.S. champion in the discus, and big Sam Felton, the Harvard hammer thrower, really gave a fine demonstration in their specialties. Gordien even ran the first lap of the 400-meter relay and although he is no fancy dan in the running world, he certainly isn't slow. As a matter of fact, Fortune ran the first lap of a Swedish relay last year in which a world record was set. The Swedish event being in distances of 100, 200, 300 and 400 meters.
The big thrill for the crowd was furnished by Morcom in the pole vault. The slender New Hampshire bamboo artist sailed over 14 feet 2 inches to the intense delight of the assembly. The height bettered the German record by eight inches and Boo tried to clear 14 feet 6 inches in an effort to break the European record of 14 feet 5 inches
He failed badly on his first two attempts and on his third and final vault just failed to clear the crossbar.
Barney Ewell may have been a little upset by the general proceedings. He not only refused to sign some autographs for those who asked him but ran second to Craig Dixon in the 200 meters, who is noted for his hurdling ability.