The unrecognized Worlds Fastest Human

I just found out Dave Sime died on the 12th of January.  Held the 220 yard record for many years at 20 seconds flat.  Films showed him winning the 1960 Olympic 100 meter “World’s Fastest Human” sprint but Sime was on the lane on the opposite side of the track from Armin Hary, who was awarded the Olympic gold medal.  Hary, ‘the thief of starts’, had mastered the art of  jumping the gun and was seldom caught.  Hary also was a very good sprinter, which made him hard to catch once he had stolen the lead.  The judges eyes must have been captured by the favored Hary leading the race in his bright white jersey and missed Sime in his dark jersey closing and, right at the tape, passing Hary on the opposite side of the track.  Dave took the decision with class.

Leading up to the 1960 Olympics, Ray Norton was the consensus best 100 meter sprinter from the United States.  Sime beat Norton during one of their 100 meter workouts.  Then a few days later Sime did it again.  Norton finished sixth in the Olympic final.

20 seconds for 220 yards.  220 yards is within about a hands width of 200 meters.  I remember the distance well, my best race in high school.  Only in the last two decades has the Olympic winning time at 200 meters normally been as good, in the last few better.  Dave was running on cinder tracks, digging little triangular shaped holes in the cinders with a small masons trowel so his spiked sprinter shoes could get a better grip for the start.  In essence, starting a couple of inches below track level.  A few years later starting blocks became common.  The sprinters’ feet were above the track level, toes sometimes inches above the track.  The modern track surfaces also changed a few years after Sime’s prime; now rubberized, smooth, with uniform “grab”, and available in different degrees of hardness – hardest for sprinters, softer to ease the stress on distance runners.  The cinder tracks Dave ran on were worse in grip and inconsistent in hardness and smoothness.  20 seconds.  Out of holes dug in a cinder track.

And he beat Norton.  And he really beat Hary.  Dave Sime.  (Pronounced ‘Sim’.  Dave was of Scottish extraction.)

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