Sub 2-Hour
SPORTS EYE - Raffy Uytiepo (The Freeman) - October 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Last year I wrote in my column if it was possible for a runner to break 2 hours in a marathon. I mentioned Dr. Michael Joyner, an expert in human performance at Mayo Clinic who in 1991 said 1:57:58 is possible. The closest to come close was Eliud Kipchoge, who timed 2 hours 01 minute and 29 seconds which he set in the 2018 Berlin Marathon.  I have been saying that the best place to establish a world record is either in Berlin or London.  Kipchoge has been chasing the record for quite some time.  Two years ago, he participated in the Nike Breaking Two Project but fell short, clocking 2 hours and 25 seconds.  But last Saturday, Kipchoge did the impossible as he clocked one hour 59 minutes and 40 seconds in the Vienna Marathon.  The International Association Athletics Federation (IAAF) however has not recognized the record.  The running surface of the road had been partly retarred, as to avoid injuries to the runners.  He was also paced by 41 runners including Olympics 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz and former world champion Bernard Lagat of Kenya. Pacing is not allowed in running.  But anyway you look at it, Kipchoge proved that impossible is nothing and that a sub2-hour marathon can be achieved.

Did you know? Unfinished Business

In the 1960 Rome Olympics, Jerry West’s main concern was to get back at the Soviets who initiated the Cold War with their political system and propaganda machine.  In 1951, David West, Jerry’s revered brother was killed by an artillery shell in Korea. Jerry West was part of the original “Dream Team” composed of Olympians Bob Boozer, Burdette Haldorson, Lester Lane, Allen Kelley, and eventual NBA superstars, Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas, Adrian Smith, Walt Bellamy, Terry Dischinger and DarrallImhoff. There were two more games for the US team after their encounter with the Soviets, but a lot of people considered the game, the championship.  The Soviets were taller and faster and were expected to win in Rome.  Since the Soviets did not know West, as they had not scouted him, they doubled team Robertson who passed to West for open shots.  When the smoke cleared, the US had blown USSR 81-57 with West top scoring with 19 points.  Robertson tallied 16 while Lucas contributed 12.  The game was tough with the Russians“Getting away with murder”said Lucas.  The Soviets were called for 30 fouls and the US, 27.  As they left the basketball venue, the Americans knew that two games remained, against Italy and Brazil, before the gold.  But beating the Russians was all that mattered.  Team USA went on to win the crown undefeated in eight games.  Russia was second (6-2) and Brazil third (6-2).  West was vindicated.  West, also known as Mr. “Clutch” is best remembered with his fifty five feet shot or was it sixty during a play-off game versus the New York Knicks in 1969.

Bikila had shoes

When eventual 1960 Rome Olympics marathon champion Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia arrived in Italy.  He had his running shoes with him but it came apart (“Daan na kaayo”). So he bought a new one and wore them on several practice runs but they did not fit the contours of his thin feet and caused blisters.  On race day, Bikila decided to run barefeet, rather than with ill-fitting shoes.Besides, running barefeet over Ethiopia’s rugged terrain during training, developed knuckles (kubal) on Bikila’s feet.Bikila was never given a Chinaman’s chance to win in the marathon but he surprised everyone when he won in a record time of 2:15:16. Favorites Rhadi Ben Abdessalem of Morocco and New Zealand’s Barry Magee wound up second and third respectively while top seed Gordon McKenzie of the US did not make it to the top ten, he arrived 21 minutes after Bikila.  McKenzie who was second in that year’s Boston Marathon, earlier called Bikila, “That skinny guy from Africa without shoes”. Proving that his victory in Rome was no fluke, Bikila again won the marathon in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, this time wearing shoes.

JOE LOUIS-former heavyweight champion died of heart attack at age 66, in Las Vegas on April 12, 1981.  Louis reigned from 1937 until 1949 and remains the longest of any title-holder in any division.  His record was 68 wins with 54 knockouts and three loses.  He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery at the request of President Ronald Reagan

SUGAR RAY ROBINSON-former world middleweight champion who died on April 12, 1989 at age 67, suffered  from Alzheimers disease and diabetes.  He was 85-0 as an amateur and won his first professional 40 fights before losing to Jake La Motta.  His record reads: 200 fights, 173 wins, 108 knockouts, 19loses and six draws.

Hasta La Vista Chito

Chito Bertol,one of the first Elvis Presley tribute artist and founder of the Elvis Presley International Friendship Club, died the other day after a stroke.  Chito has been in and out of the hospital lately but continued to support the Elvis Club and shows “Hasta La Vista Chito, keep on rockin’ and rollin’ in heaven.  Another Elvis disciple, Edgar Opeda, also died of a heart attack this year.  I’m glad I have a “Wooden Heart”

ELIUD KIPCHOGE
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