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    USA sprinters late for 1972 Olympic race
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    A "current events" thread about 2008 USA Olympic team coaches provided a URL link to a newspaper story this week, by Lance Pugmire of Los Angeles Times, concerning a schedule mixup at the 1972 Olympics.

    The incident concerned two USA sprinters missing a quarter-final heat of the 100m dash which caused them to be disqualified. As a newspaper editor then, I heard the mixup was due to someone on USA team misreading the race schedule of 1600 [the way much of the world presents clock time] as 6:00 p.m. instead of 4:00 p.m.

    Not then being in the sports department, I gave the matter no further thought until today when a different version of the mixup was available via this forum. Now I'm curious, although misreading "1600" still seems believable. So does some forum contributor know for sure why those USA sprinters missed the start of their race?
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    Re: USA sprinters late for 1972 Olympic race
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Fields
    A "current events" thread about 2008 USA Olympic team coaches provided a URL link to a newspaper story this week, by Lance Pugmire of Los Angeles Times, concerning a schedule mixup at the 1972 Olympics.

    The incident concerned two USA sprinters missing a quarter-final heat of the 100m dash which caused them to be disqualified. As a newspaper editor then, I heard the mixup was due to someone on USA team misreading the race schedule of 1600 [the way much of the world presents clock time] as 6:00 p.m. instead of 4:00 p.m.

    Not then being in the sports department, I gave the matter no further thought until today when a different version of the mixup was available via this forum. Now I'm curious, although misreading "1600" still seems believable. So does some forum contributor know for sure why those USA sprinters missed the start of their race?
    Ted Haydon, who coached distance runners (and probably hammer throwers) in Munich, told me after he returned to Chicago that he had the same wrong schedule, and it could have been him in Stan Wright's place except that his guys ran later.

    Pat Palmer
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    #3
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    Not only is the 24-hour clock story bullshit, it's trumped by the bullshit presented in the LA Times story that's linked over in the Current Events forum

    http://apse.dallasnews.com/contest/2002 ... ond6a.html

    That talks about a late change by the IAAF 48 hours earlier being responsible, when in reality the change had been made months earlier and every member of the U.S. team had the T&FN Oly Preview, which had the correct schedule.

    I'll dig up our story and reprint it.
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    The T&FN report on the Munich incident, which seems to lay it out pretty clearly:

    <<Rey Robinson had appeared to be limping slightly at the finish of his first-round heat in the 100, so not too much surprise was occasioned when the Olympic scoreboard showed "NA." beside his name (indicating he had not appeared) for the first quarter-final. But when "NA." appeared after Eddie Hart's name in the second heat lane assignments, everyone knew something must be wrong.

    "It's some sort of protest," was the immediate reaction of almost every one of the forty-odd people interviewed on the subject.

    The mystery deepened when Robert Taylor did appear for the third quarter-final. Not only was he there, but he was warming-up vigorously, as if the race were perhaps half an hour away instead of only a minute or two. As it turned out, Taylor was warming up-and this two or three minutes was the only warm-up he had. Despite this, he finished second behind Valerly Borzov, and thus became the only American to make it to the semi-finals.

    The fact that even Taylor made it to the starting line was sheer luck.

    The three sprinters had been told by coach Stan Wright that their quarterfinal races were after the 10,000-meter heats, which were scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. They had dropped into the ABC building just outside the Olympic Village at approximately 4:00 p.m., and had seen the first quarter-final being run off on an ABC monitor set.

    "Hey, what's that? A rerun of the heats this morning?" asked one, idly. "No, that's live," was the reply. "Happening right now." "That's our race!" they chorused.

    An ABC car rushed them to the stadium half a mile away, but by the time they arrived, both Robinson's and Hart's races had been run, and only Taylor was alive. Two co-holders of the 100-meter world record of 9.9 seconds were out of the Olympics.

    The general reaction was one of incredulity. How could it have happened? Who was to blame? The answers were as simple as they were unbelievable. Stan Wright had been using a 15-month-old schedule issued by the US Olympic Committee. The schedule, printed in dark blue ink on light blue paper, contained day-by-day listings of all Olympic sports, and was so convenient that many (including this writer) were using it as an easy reminder of what events were to take place each day.

    The US coaches made an immediate appeal to the IAAF jury, coach Wright telling the IAAF (according to Dan Ferris) that the athletes had been delayed by a traffic jam which held up their bus )a statement which did the US no good with the IAAF), but the appeal was denied.

    Robinson, who had been extremely unhappy with Wright since he had been removed from the 4x100 relay team, said, "Coach Wright is the culprit. We trusted him, and he let us down." Hart, equally disappointed, was more philosophical, "i feel terrible right now, but I know that as the years go by it won't seem so important as it does right now."

    In an interview with Howard Cosell that night, Wright admitted it was entirely his fault, but when he added a vague reference to a "higher authority" being responsible, Cosell followed up with a brutally direct series of questions which made it appear that Wright was waffling, whether he was or not. This interview, from the reaction it got in the United States, was the single most unpopular piece of television during the entire two-plus weeks of ABC's coverage.

    Incidentally, there were erroneous reports that Wright had read "16:15" (4:15 p.m.) as "6:15" on the European-style timetable, but this was not the case.

    Perhaps the most shocking thing about the incident was the revelation that the US Olympic team was not as well-organized as one would expect. Many had always assumed that each athlete was given a correct schedule for his event alone, with instructions on where and when to report and so on, but this obviously did not happen.

    Although each athlete and coach had received a copy of Track & Field News with the correct schedule printed on page five, at least two days before track competition began, nobody was careful enough to check. Nothing can be done about what has happened, something should be done to make sore nothing of the sort ever happens again. /Jim Dunaway/>>
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    #5
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    I am all for rules and I am all for schedules and timetables and sticking to them because they are the rule.. but goodness gracious, was there no way to remedy the situation ... could there have been an extra heat added to the quarter final....

    The more I read this the more happy I am that Hart got goldin the 4x1 , but how about Rey ?
    ... nothing really ever changes my friend, new lines for old, new lines for old.
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    Thanks to GH for sharing the fine T&FN story, typical Jim Dunaway quality.

    I'm grateful that story included "Incidentally, there were erroneous reports that Wright had read "16:15" (4:15 p.m.) as "6:15" on the European-style timetable, but this was not the case."

    Such a report may have come to our sport desk via AP or UPI wire but I gave it little attention because I was then focused on other news, e.g. Vietnam war, USA presidential election. Sadly, the Munich Olympics got front-page attention later with the tragic massacre of 5 September 1972.
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    #7
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    Im sure Coach Wright was a great guy, and while it is true that the athletes should have been more responsible themselves, it is absolutely the coaches obligation and duty to get the athletes 1) the exact time of their event, 2) ensure proper transportation to the event.. those are two basic requirements of a coach at that level.. heck he doesnt really have the job of training the athletes so this is the least they can do.
    ... nothing really ever changes my friend, new lines for old, new lines for old.
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    #8
    just out of curiosity - who were the men's ass't coaches????????
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    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by louise tricard
    just out of curiosity - who were the men's ass't coaches????????
    And who were the team managers? It has always struck me that this is first a management task, with the information turned over to the coaching staff.
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    #10
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    You mean to tell me that there were coaches and assistants and managers too...... we may never get the whole story.
    ... nothing really ever changes my friend, new lines for old, new lines for old.
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