LANDMARKS — September/October

In an era full of colorful characters, vaulter Steve Smith managed to stand out among them in the first half of the ’70s. (ED FOSTER)

Named: Allyson Felix, 34
As one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” for 2020, saying, “Thank you for using your voice to advance maternity rights.”

Died: Aleksandr Aksinin, 65
On July 28, in St. Petersburg, Russia. A bronze medalist on the Soviet 4×1 team in the ’76 Olympics, 4 years later he won gold on the relay. He also placed 4th in the Moscow 100 final but never earned a World Rankings spot.

Died: Folke Alnevik, 100
On August 08, in Gävle, Sweden. He helped win bronze for Sweden in the ’48 Olympic 4×4. At the time of his death he was the oldest living Olympic track & field medalist, a fact he reportedly thought was funny that anyone had noticed.

Died: Ary da Sá, 92
On August 16, in Brasilia, Brazil. A 2-time World Ranker in the long jump, he placed 4th in the ’52 Olympics and was ranked No. 4 in ’55.

Died: Sheila Ingram, 63
On September 01. As a DC prep, she won 4×4 silver at the ’76 Olympics after placing 6th in the 400 final. She had a spectacular Games, improving her PR by 1.56 as she set 3 American Records: 51.31 in the quarters, 50.90 in the semis and 50.90 again in the final. She remains the No. 4 prep ever. Her ’76 performances earned her her only World & U.S. Ranking spots ever, Nos. 10 & 2.

Died: John Kopil, 85
On September 05, in Edison, New Jersey. As a prep at Bayonne High in New Jersey he broke the Indoor HSR in the mile in ’53 with his 4:20.1. He went on to run for Villanova and placed 9th in the ’56 Trials 5000.

Died: Vitold Kreyer, 87
On August 01. The triple jump bronze medalist in both the ’56 and ’60 Olympics for the Soviet Union, he World Ranked 9 times 1956–64, with a No. 1 in ’61. His 54-10 (16.71) that year moved him to No. 2 on the all-time world list. He later coached 3-time Oly gold medalist Viktor Saneyev.

Died: Gergely Kulcsár, 86
On August 12, in Vác, Hungary. A 10-time World Ranker, 1958–71, the star javelinist was chosen as No. 1 in ’64, the year he won Olympic silver. He bookended that podium with bronzes in ’60 and ’68. He later coached Miklós Németh to gold in ’76.

Died: Kriemhild Limberg, 85
On August 24, in Neuss, Germany. The 7th-placer in the ’64 Olympic discus for West Germany, she World Ranked 8 times, with a No. 2 in ’59.

Died: Lutvian Mollova, 72
On August 19, in İstanbul. The Bulgarian javelin thrower placed 4th in the ’72 Olympics and World Ranked 4 times, topped by a No. 3 in ’74.

Died: Irene Piotrowski, 79
On August 13, in Los Angeles; of pancreatic cancer. An NR-setting 2-time Canadian Olympian in the 100 and 200, she twice World Ranked in each of the dashes, with highs of No. 8 (100 in ’67, 200 in ’66 & ’67).

Died: Chilla Porter, 84
On August 16, in Perth; of cancer. The Australian high jumper World Ranked 3 times, with a high of No. 3 in ’56, the year he added 5cm to his best to take the Olympic silver.

Died: Gale Sayers, 77
Hall Of Fame footballer; on September 23, in Wakarusa, Indiana, of complications from Alzheimer’s. As a Nebraska prep (Central, Omaha) Sayers led the nation in the long jump with his 24-10½ (7.58) in ’61, which made him the No. 7 high schooler of all time. Years later, it was discovered that bad weather had forced that competition under cover, and he should have had credit for the national indoor record until ’67.

Died: Steve Smith, 68
On September 23; of a heart attack. The colorful vaulter made the Olympic team in ’72, ranking No. 6 in the world even though he failed to make the Munich final. In ’73 he twice broke the indoor WR, with the second one making him the first to clear 18-feet indoors. He ended up No. 1 in the World Rankings that year. As an ITA pro, he raised the all-time undercover best 5 times, topping out at 18-5 (5.61) in ’75. The “amateur” indoor WR at that point was 18-1 (5.51). As a high schooler in ’69 (South, Torrance, California) he cleared 16‑8¾ (5.10), making him the No. 2 prep ever. From there he represented USC for a year before joining the Pacific Coast Club.

Died: Ivanka Vancheva, 66
On August 5. The Bulgarian javelin thrower rated among the world’s best three times, topped by a No. 5 in ’77. She placed 5th in the ’80 Olympics. ◻︎

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