This is day 1 of the 1968 Mexico Olympics reconsidered, by Mike Fanelli. Using his wonderful writing skills, love of the sport and the amazing archives of the Track Garage, the 9th wonder of the world, Mike provides us access to the Olympic world, fifty years ago.
NIFTY NAFTALI…precisely 50 years ago today, track and field at the 1968 Olympic Games kicked off in the dizzying 7,000+ foot altitude of Mexico City.
The inaugural final of these legendary Games, the men’s 10,000 meters, produced Kenya’s very first ever Olympic gold medal in any discipline, when that country’s, Naftali Temu, surged past Ethiopian great, Mamo Wolde, with just 50 meters remaining in that 25 lap contest. Temu’s prior Olympic outing was a 49th place finish at the Tokyo track meet four years prior…pretty nifty progression, I’d say.
For Wolde, who competed previously in the 1956 Games (where he even ran a leg on the 4 x 400 meter relay) and in Tokyo ’64, this silver medal would become his first ever bit of Olympic hardware. Finishing in third place place was Tunisia’s greatest ever trackster, Mohamed Gammoudi. Both Wolde and Gammoudi would eventually go on to become members of the Oly trifecta club, limited to those who earned all three colored ducats of gold, of silver, and, of bronze.
Furthermore, the track and field garage’s linguistics division have formally declared the name, Naftali Temu, amongst their top ten all time favorites, purely for the way it unfolds so fluidly when leaving one’s lips.
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