Yeah, you’re the fastest man in the world. But you’re running in the first lane, the most beat up sodden lane after two weeks of competition, and you can’t find your shoes.
Just in front of me was Bob Hayes, who seemed to be searching for something. “Bob, what are you doing?” I questioned. “Aren’t you supposed to run the next race?”
“Bob, I can’t find my shoes!” he said in a very worried tone.
“Can’t find your shoes! Where did you leave them?”
“Here, right here!” he answered frantically. “Every day I leave them under this bench while I warm up.” Then he stopped and turned to me. “I know where they are! They’re under my bed at the village! I forgot to bring them!” He looked at my spikes and I knew what he was thinking.
“I wear size 10 and a half, Bob,” I said.
“Too big! What am I going to do?” Just then Tom Farrell entered the area. Tom was in the 800 final, which followed the 100 meters. It was apparent what Bob was thinking, and he ran over to Tom and asked what size spikes he word. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but within seconds Bob had Tom’s shoes and was running for the check-in room.
As I waited for the bus outside the stadium I heard the final results of the 100 meters. Bob Hayes had set an Olympic record in winning the gold medal. “Way to go, Bob,” I said out loud.
Bob Hayes set a world record running the 100 meters in 10 seconds flat.
Bob Schul had already won gold in the 5,000 meters, the only American Olympic champion in that event.
Tom Farrell would find glory four years later in 1968, wining bronze in the 800 meter race. He graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School, which is a 5-minute walk from where I grew up in Queens. I spent many a summer day playing stickball in that high school parking lot.