Steeplechase Champ Gaston Roelants

From the book, “Tokyo Olympics Special Issue_Kokusai Johosha”. Gaston Roelants is splashing to the lead.

I love etymology – the origins of words. Some people say that the classic American phrase – hunky dory – originated in Japan, although there are multiple explanations for this expression.

The etymology of the athletic discipline, the steeplechase, apparently has a clearer history – a traditional race in Ireland where horses or runners raced from church to church, jumping over narrow streams and low stone walls.

In 1964, the Belgian, Gaston Roelants, was the best steeplechaser in the world. The European Champion, Roelants came to Tokyo as the favorite, and he didn’t disappoint. He won the finals of the 3,000-meter race over hurdles and puddles in 8 minutes and 30.8 seconds, an Olympic record at the time.

There is relatively little video on the 1964 summer games on the internet, but thankfully you find nuggets, like this amateur film of Roelants running in the Tokyo Olympics. Roelants is at the head of the pack.

If you are a runner and are in Brussels, compete in the annual 5k and 10k race held annually in December, named the “Brussels 10k & 5k Gaston Roelants“.

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