LANDMARKS — January

Recordsetting sprinter Willie Smith was our prep Athlete Of The Year in ’74. (CALLENDAR BROS.)

Died: Cliff Bertrand, 84
On November 28, in New York City; of natural causes. In ’60, the Trinidadian won Olympic bronze as part of the 4×1 team representing the British West Indies. In ’62 he placed 6th in the NCAA 220 for NYU.

Died: Heinfried Birlenbach, 79
On November 11, in Siegen, Germany. A 4-time World Ranker in the shot, he earned his highest position, No. 4, in ’70. A 3-time West German Olympian, he didn’t make the ’64 final and then was 8th in ’68 and 7th in ’72.

Died: Ernesto Canto, 61
On November 20, in Mexico City; of pancreatic and liver cancer. The gold medalist in the 20K walk for Mexico at the ’83 Worlds and ’84 Olympics, he set a World Record 1:18:40.0 on the track in ’84. Nine times he made the World Rankings, with No. 1s in ’81 & ’84. He also ranked No. 6 in the 50K in ’82.

Died: Buddy Davis, 89
On November 17, in Port Arthur, Texas. In ’52 the Texas A&M star won everything in the high jump: NCAA, AAU, OT and OG (as the last Western Roller to win gold). The next year he set a World Record 6-11½ (2.12). All this despite being paralyzed by polio as a child. He World Ranked three times, with No. 1s in ’52 & ’53. He later played in the NBA, twice on championship teams.

Died: Fred DeBernardi, 71
On December 03, in Las Vegas; of cancer. Winner of a shot/discus double at the ’72 NCAA, the UTEP star earned All-America status 6 times. Had PRs of 70-3½ (21.42) and 201-8 (61.48) He made the World Rankings once, a No. 10 in the shot in ’72. Was a member of the short-lived ITA pro league.

Died: June Foulds, 86
On November 06. She helped the British 4×1 win the bronze in the ’52 Games and the silver four years later. World Ranked once in the 100 (No. 8 in ’56) and twice in the 200 (No. 5s in ’56 & ’58).

Died: Paula Girven, 62
On October 17, in Asheville, North Carolina; of cancer. A ’76 Olympian in the high jump, she set a High School Record of 6-1¼ (1.85) that lasted for 5 years. At Maryland she was an AIAW All-America indoors and out, and she placed 2nd in the ’80 OT. A 6-time U.S. Ranker, she was No. 2 in ’76.

Died: Heidi Hertz, 64
On November 28, in Tampa, Florida; of COPD and cancer. AIAW pentathlon champion for Florida in ’76, she made the U.S. Rankings 3 times, with a No. 7 in ’76.

Died: Attila Horváth, 53
On November 13, in Szombathely, Hungary; of C19. The bronze medalist in the discus at the ’91 Worlds, he placed 5th in the ’92 Olympics. A 4-time World Ranker, he was No. 3 in ’91. Won 9 national titles.

Died: Virginia Ioan, 71
On November 09, in Bucharest, Romania. A ’68 Olympian, she made the high jump World Rankings 4 times, reaching No. 5 in ’73. PR of 6-3½ (1.92).

Died: Mariya Itkina, 88
On December 01, in Minsk, Belarus. As a Soviet, she set 4 WRs in the 400 between ’57 and ’62. With the 400 finally added to the women’s Olympic program in ’64, she finished 5th. She had previously placed 4th in the ’56 4×1, and in ’60 had finished 4th in the 100, 200 and 4×1. Unfortunate distinction: only Olympian in any sport ever to finish 4th 4 times without getting a medal. She appeared in the World Rankings 21 times: 4 in the 100 (No. 2 in ’61), 7 in the 200 (No. 1 in ’61) and 10 at 400 (No. 1 in ’57 & ’59).

Died: Ron Livers, 65
On December 19, in Collegeville, Pennsylvania; of brain cancer. Three-time NCAA triple jump champion for San José State, Livers was a 4-time World Ranker in the event, with No. 3s in ’77, ’79 & ’80. He scored 8 U.S. Rankings, leading in ’77 when he set an American Record 56-4¾ (17.19) that moved him to No. 9 on the all-time world list, and ’79 when he won the national title. Was also a 7-4¼ (2.24) high jumper, ranking No. 4 in the country in ’75. Standing 5-8 (1.73), that gave him the highest height-over-head clearance in history to that point.

Died: Jordi Llopart, 68
On November 11, in Badalona, Spain; of a heart attack. He won ’80 Olympic silver in the 50K walk. A 5-time World Ranker, he was No. 2 in ’78 & ’80.

Died: Paul Nihill, 81
On December 15, in Gillingham, England; of C19. The silver medalist in the 50K walk at the ’64 Olympics, the British star also captured the European gold in the 20K in ’69. Our World Rankings in the walk didn’t start until ’70; from then he rated twice at 20K (No. 3 in ’71); at 50K he was No. 9 in ’71.

Died: Maria Piątkowska, 89
On December 19, in Poland; of C19. She was a 3-time Olympian (’52, ’60, ’64), taking 6th in the Tokyo 80H and 11th in the Rome LJ. Three times World Ranked in the hurdles, with a high of No. 2 in ’63, the same year she was No. 5 in the pentathlon. Her 10.6 PR in the hurdles made her =No. 7 on the all-time world list.

Died: Arnie Robinson, 72
On December 01, in San Diego, California; of C19. The ’70 NCAA champion in the long jump for San Diego State, he moved to the top of the World Rankings the following year and in ’72 captured Olympic bronze. His finest moment came win winning the gold in Montréal in ’76, where his PR 27-4¾ (8.35) moved him to =No. 3 on the all-time list. He captured 7 AAU national titles (6 outdoors, 1 in) along the way and World Ranked 8 times, with a stretch of 3 straight No. 1s, 1976–78.

Died: Hugh Short, 98
On November 04, in South Burlington, Vermont; of natural causes. While at Georgetown he won the ’42 IC4A title in the 440, and the next year tied the indoor WR at 600y (1:10.2).

Died: Willie Smith, 64
On November 07. Our High School AOY in ’74, when he tied the prep 100 (9.3y) and 220 (20.6) records, Smith went on to star at Auburn, where he won 2 NCAA Indoor 440 titles. Named to three Olympic teams, he only got the chance to run in ’84, when he was awarded a gold for his duties in the 4×4 heats. He World Ranked 5 times in the 400, with a best of No. 3 in ’78, the year he PRed at 44.73. □

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