2013 Moscow Diary: Moscow 2013-column 1, Looking Back: Moscow and the 1980 Olympics: 1. The Match of Champions-USA VS USSR, by James Dunaway

| 0 Comments
James Dunaway was first credentialed at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, when he started his company, Dunaway Ink and wrote for a series of newspapers in North America. James Dunaway has been to over 50 NCAA Championships and did not miss a Summer Olympics until London 2012. 

adidas_shoe.jpg
dassler track spike, circa 1928, courtesy of adidas communications

Dunaway has written for Track & Field News for five decades plus. He has been editor of American Track & Field for a decade and my mentor for much longer. Mercurial, hysterical, Dunaway is a rare sports journalist. He is rightly a member of USA Track & Field's hall of fame, and Dunaway, most importantly, has encouraged several generations of sports journalist to continue to cover our sport and to cajole, fight and write for it's continued improvement. 

We asked James to write a series of columns on the Moscow 1980 Olympics, of which he attended as one of the handful of US journalists. This is Dunaway's first column, on the USA versus USSR Track meets. 

We hope that you like it! 


MOSCOW 2013 - 1
 
LOOKING BACK: MOSCOW AND THE 1980 OLYMPICS
 
 
1. THE "MATCH OF CHAMPIONS' - USA VS USSR
 
 
The 1980 Olympics probably would not have been held in Moscow if
they had not been preceded by the great series of track-and-field dual
meets behind the two mightiest political powers of the mid-century -
the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.          
 
After several years of negotiations between Dan Ferris of the Amateur
Athletic Union and Leonid Khomenkov of the Soviet Light Athletics
Federation - the "Cold War" was at its height -- the first meet was held
in two-year-old Lenin Stadium on Sunday, July 27 and Monday 28, 1958.
 
Yes, that's the same stadium, now called Luzhniki, where this year's
World Championships will he held.
 
Some 75,000 spectators saw the first day's competition, with perhaps
30,000 on the second day, which was rainy and a work day. Despite
the rain world records were set by American decathlete Rafer Johnson  
with 8,302 points and Soviet triple jumper Oleg Ryakhovskiy with
16.59 meters (54-5 ¼). Other American highlights were 1958 Olympic
champions Harold Connolly, winner of the hammer throw, Tom Courtney
800-meter winner, and Glenn Davis, who not only won his specialty,
the 400-meter hurdles, but also won the 400-meter flat race here.
 
The team scores proved to be a bone of contention throughout the series. 
The U.S. wanted the men's and women's scores kept separately, while 
the Soviets insisted the team scores be combined. As it turned out, that first meet
was scored like this:
 
                                                USA                USSR
                        Men                 126                    109
                        Women              44                      63
 
                        Combined        170                    172
 
In 1959, the meet was held at Philadelphia's Franklin Field, then back to
Lenin Stadium in 1961. The 1962 meet in Palo Alto - called at the time
"the greatest track meet ever outside of the Olympics" -- drew a record
two-day crowd of 153.000 to Stanford Stadium, and again two new world
records were set. Harold Connolly raised his own hammer record to
70.67 (231-10) and Soviet high jumper Valeriy Brumel improved hisown
high jump record to 7-5 (2.26m).
 
As the Cold War cooled, so did the intensity of the USA vs. USSR meets,
and they finally petered out in the late 1980s.
 
Looking backwards, outside of the thrilling competition of the series, it is
most important long-range effect was the forward thrust it gave women's
track and field in the United States

Leave a comment

Wake up to RunBlogRun's news in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you informed about the Sport you love.

Subscribe to RunBlogRun's Global News Feed

* indicates required