Track & Field: Breaking the Dash Barrier

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Few barriers have withstood the test of flying feet as stubbornly as Armin Hary's world record of 10 sec. flat for the 100-meter dash—set by the West German Olympian in 1960 and tied since by nine other sprinters. Last week Hary's Deutsche mark was not only broken but absolutely devalued at the A.A.U. championship in Sacramento, Calif. In eight 100-meter races—four heats, two semifinals, the final, and a runoff for one berth in this week's Olympic trials—no fewer than ten competitors equaled Hary's time, and three were officially clocked at 9.9 sec. The record-breakers: Seattle's Charlie Greene, 23, Texan Jim Hines, 21, and Ronnie Ray Smith, a sophomore at California's San Jose State College. Disallowed because of a following 6.2-m.p.h. breeze (legal maximum: 4.473 m.p.h.) was a clocking of 9.8 sec. for Hines—who wound up losing to Greene in the final in the suddenly mediocre time of ten-flat.

At first, officials feared that the concrete-hard clay track was short, but a careful survey showed that it actually measured 100 meters and 4 in. Then the timers came under attack: "I was watching their hands," insisted one onlooker, "and I saw some of the fastest fingers in the West." Maybe. But in the cases of Greene, Hines and Smith, an automatic Bulova Accutron Phototimer confirmed that all three had indeed broken Mary's mark. Their times were therefore submitted to the International Amateur Athletic Federation for official recognition.

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