Here is my list of books penned by Olympians from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, continued from Part 1 here.

Inside Five Ring Circus Cover

Inside the Five Ring Circus: Changing Global Sports and the Modern Olympics, is written by Ollan Cassell, a gold medal member of the 4×400 US men’s track team in Tokyo, and long-time executive within the AAU, the powerful governing body of amateur sports through much of the 20th century. Cassel’s book is less about his track career and more about the fascinating history of amateur athletics in the United States. He was front and center in the debate and transition of the professionalization of sports in America.

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In The Long Run – US 5000-Meter Olympic Gold Medalist Tokyo 1964 is an autobiography by the first and only American to win the 5,000 meter finals in an Olympics, Bob Schul. Co-written by Laura Rentz Krause, In the Long Run tells the story from his childhood growing up in West Milton, Ohio, to his torturous training sessions under legendary coach Mihaly Igloi in California, to meeting high expectations of victory in Tokyo.

Mary Mary cover

Mary Mary – An Autobiography of an Olympic Champion is by British long jump champion, Mary Rand. She was definitely one of the brightest stars at the 1964 Olympics. While expected to win gold in Rome, but didn’t, Rand redeemed herself in Tokyo, not only breaking the world record and winning gold in the long jump, but also taking silver in the pentathlon and bronze in the 4×100-meter women’s relay. An electrifying presence in person, Rand’s charm oozes through the pages as well.

No Bugles No Drums

No Bugles No Drums is an eloquent look of double middle-distance gold medalist, Peter Snell, the incredible double champion of the men’s 800 and 1500-meter middle-distance races at the ’64 Games. Written with Garth Gilmour, No Bugles No Drums is the appropriate title for a smart but understated athlete, who writes with wit and understated insight.

Brightwell Golden Girl vocer

Robbie Brightwell and His Golden Girl is by Robbie Brightwell, the captain of the Great Britain’s track team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It is the story not only of his journey to a fantastic silver medal anchoring the 4×400 relay team, but also of the journey of his wife, Ann Packer, who won gold in the 1500 and silver in the 400 meters (losing only to Betty Cuthbert). This is a story of self-discovery and leadership told with intelligence and charm.

Run Bullet Run cover

Run, Bullet, Run: The Rise, Fall, and Recovery of Bob Hayes is the incredible story of the career of Bob Hayes, one of only two people to win both a gold medal and a Super Bowl championship. Co-written with Robert Pack, Run, Bullet, Run is the story of a young black American whose rise to Olympic gold and stardom as a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver was as stunning as his fall due to drugs and alcohol.

wokini

Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding is by Billy Mills and co-written by novelist, Nicholas Sparks. Mills was one of the biggest stories of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Unlike Schul, who was pre-determined by the press to win the 5,000 meters, Mills was practically unapproached by the press, who hardly knew him. Mills went on to win the 10,000 meter finals in Tokyo in an incredible come-from-behind victory, inspiring Team America and millions around the world. Mills has gone on to great works in helping young Native American Indians in the United States, and wrote this inspirational parable of self discovery, Wokini.

See the other recommended books in Part 1.

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Mary Rand and Whillye White in the UK 2
Mary Rand and Whillye White in the UK

It was February 19, 1965, a few months after the Tokyo Olympic Games. A collection of international track stars, many fresh from medaling in Tokyo, gathered at Madison Square Garden in New York City for the AAU National Indoor Track Championships.

Billy Mills, the first and only American to win the gold in the 10,000 meters in the Olympics, won the three-mile race. In a rematch of the Tokyo Olympics men’s long jump, USSR’s Igor Ter-Ovesyan outdistanced America’s Ralph Boston. Tamara Press repeated as champion in the shot put. Iolanda Balas of Romania continued her dominance in the high jump. And Mary Rand was also in town.

But the women’s long jump champion of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics faded quickly in Madison Square Garden, crashing out in the preliminary rounds by fouling two of her three jumps. The runway for the long jump did have a quirky quality: there were two take-off boards on the runway, the white indicators that tell the athlete exactly how far they can step before they launch themselves into the air. But she didn’t feel that was the reason for her poor performance, as she wrote in her autobiography, “Mary Mary“.

We were having problems because on the long jump approach there were two take-off boards very close to each other. You had to pass over the first one just before taking off, which was a bit distracting. I wasn’t jumping particularly well. In fact I was fed-up with my jumping more than irritated by the other board.

Mary Rand second stripe
Mary Rand jumping from the second take-off board. Click on the image to watch the actual video.

So Rand was in her hotel room when she heard a knocking on her door. It was American long jumper, Whillye White, silver medalist in the long jump at the 1956 Melbourne Games, and silver medalist in the 4X100 relay at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. White came to explain to Rand that she had protested the outcome of the preliminary round because the first take-off stripe should not have been on the track in the first place. White said to Rand that she had told officials that the first stripe upset her, and it must have upset the other competitors as well, and that she said Rand could join the other six in the finals.

I might have said something about it being “stupid” – but I would never have dreamed of protesting. I said I wouldn’t come back unless it was absolutely all right with all the other jumpers, because it did mean that I might go ahead and win. But Willye had already put it to all the other athletes, I was told, and they had all agreed.

So Rand returned, and she landed a jump of 20 feet 4 inches, over a foot shorter than her Olympic record in Tokyo, but good enough for first place in New York. Thanks to Whillye White!

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Mary Rand with Mary Peters

The women’s pentathlon, like the men’s decathlon, are challenging endurance competitions that require capability in a variety of athletic disciplines. A significant weakness in one discipline could sink you. And like C. K. Yang in the decathlon, Mary Rand had difficulty throwing heavy things.

Rand was the brightest star of a resurgent British track and field team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. In fact, it’s stunning to think of the punishing schedule she had to compete in the long jump (October 14), in the pentathlon (October 16-17) and in the women’s 4X100 relay (October 20-21). So there are several factors one could take into account, for Rand’s results, including the heavy lifting she needed to do for TeamGB.

But in the end, Rand’s ability to heave a 4kg shot was her undoing.

The women’s pentathlon in 1964 was a two-day event that featured the 80-meter hurdles, the shot put, the high jump, the long jump and the 200 meter sprint. Against strong Soviet competition, as well as a fellow member of the British team, Rand won three of the five competitions: the high jump, the 200 meters, as well as the long jump, the event she was awarded gold only three days before.

In the first event, the 80-meter hurdles, the two Soviet athletes, Irina Press and Galina Bystrova, nipped Rand at the tape by 0.2 seconds. In other words, Rand had the best or second best scores in 4 of the 5 pentathlon competitions.

Here are the results of the 1964 women’s pentathlon.

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You can clearly see that Rand’s shot put of 11.05 meters was poor, over 6 meters short of Irina Press’s toss. Each result in the pentathlon converts into points, and as you can see, Rand’s shot put score was 384 points behind Press’s score. The end result was that Rand was 211 total points off of Press’s total score. So let’s play the “what if” game. If Rand had thrown as well as her compatriot, Mary Peters, the additional 226 points would have given Rand the world record and the gold medal.

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Irina Press, from the book Tokyo Olympiad Kyodo News Service

Press appeared to be both impressed and flummoxed with Rand, incredulous that Rand would not work harder to improve her shot putting, as Neil Allen implies in his book, Olympic Diary Tokyo 1964:

[Irina Press] does not possess the extraordinary natural talent of Mary Rand; but unlike the British girl she has no weakness in her athletics armoury. Mary beat the Russian in three of the five events but her shot putting, which has always been miserably poor, let her down yesterday and not even a superb long jump today could make up the deficit. At the medal presentation Irina Press told me she could not understand why Mary, with the minimum work, could not put the shot at least over 42 ft. (12.8 meters)

So second place it was for Mary Rand. With a gold in the long jump and a silver in the pentathlon, Rand thought out loud in an AP article from October 19, 1964 that “a bronze from the relay would complete the set.”

Unfortunately for her sprinting teammates, Rand got what she wished for.

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Mary Rand, from the book, XVIII Olympiad Tokyo 1964 Asahi Shimbun

“I went to Rome in 1960,” Mary Rand explained in this video interview. “I was favored to win the long jump there. Did one of the best qualifying jumps but in the finals I ran through the pit and everything went wrong. And so when we came back to England, the headlines were ‘Flop Flop Flop’. I kinda thought I’m going to pack it in.”

In 1960, Mary Rand was expected to win the gold medal in the women’s long jump, but the 20-year-old cracked under pressure in Rome, and came home to unwanted and unwarranted attention from the press. Here’s how The Times described the press reaction in 1960. “British athletes, you should be ashamed of yourselves,” wrote one newspaper over photographs of those deemed to have failed. Bignal (Rand’s maiden name) was the star failure.”

Rand thought she was done with athletics. After all, she was married with a small daughter. But the call of competition was strong, and Rand found herself preparing the Tokyo Games. When she qualified for the British Olympic Squad, and landed in Tokyo, she was four years older and wiser. And yet, the demons of past failure were still in her head.

In this wonderful profile Rand in the Sunday Times as a run-up to the 2000 Sydney Games, the writer describes a joyful Rand the night before her long jump competition, singing a lullaby she would sing to the daughter she left in London, refusing to allow her roommates to sleep.

“Mary, for crying out loud,” says Mary Peters from the next bed. Her roommates cannot be angry. She sings so beautifully and even now, so late at night, her effervescence bubbles. “I’ll teach you,” she says, “come on, ‘I ullowoost to halowav an alawold banjalawo’, try it.” And so in this small room at the 1964 Olympic Games, four British athletes serenade themselves to sleep.

Sleep? Singing brings them to life. “Mary, I’m going to bang a nail into the wall,” says [Ann] Packer, “and from it I’ll hang the medal you’re going to win. It’ll inspire us to get the other ones.” It’s just a bit of fun but Mary Rand shivers at the mention of winning.

But according to the writer, Rand does not want to sleep, for silence forces her to hear the voices of doubt in her head:

What are you going to do tomorrow Mary, flop like you did in Rome four years ago?”

Outside, Mary hears the rain fall, so loud it could be hailstones: “What will that do to the cinder track, Mary?” She hates not being able to control the voices.

Alone in the darkness, Mary talks to God. “Please,” she pleads, “let me do well tomorrow.

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Mary Rand, from the book XVIII Olympiad Tokyo 1964 Asahi Shimbun

But as it turns out, the 24-year-old version of Rand was made of stronger stuff. In the video interview, Rand reflected on her attitude as she readied herself for the women’s long jump competition, and her refusal to allow her competitors to psych her out during the practice period.

The hardest thing in long jumping in the Olympics is everybody is trying to get their run-ups. The Russians. The Poles. They’re all pushing and shoving, you know? So you have to be pretty tough. I got a couple of jumps in. It was really cold and windy. It was a little nervewracking because in the back of your mind ‘Oh my gosh, this happened four years ago.’ And I know the press were thinking, ‘Is she going to fall apart again.’ And everything went right.

Rand did not run through her mark. She did not foul. She did not crash and burn. In fact, Rand dominated from start to finish in the six rounds of the finals. In the first round, she broke the Olympic record with a leap of 6.59 meters, 35 centimeters further than Diana Yorgova of Bulgaria. In the fifth round, she broke the spirit of all competitors with a world record jump of 6.76 meters.

Like many British and American athletes who were not used to the metric system, she had no idea what that meant in feet and inches. The world record at that time was 21 ft 11.75 in so she had to dig into her bag for the meter to fee conversion table to learn that she became the first woman ever to exceed 22 feet – 22 feet 2 1/4 inches to be exact.

A star was born.

 

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Ann Packer and Mary Rand with their gold medals

Even the Queen of England was impressed.

After the completion of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Queen Elizabeth had lunch with hundreds of Olympians from TeamGB a few days after their return from Japan, and was most taken with Mary Rand, the sensational triple medalist. Rand won gold in the women’s long jump, silver in the pentathlon and bronze as a member of the women’s 4X100 relay team, leading a resurgence in British track and field.

The Queen is reported to have measured out 22 feet, 2 inches (6.76 meters), the length of Rand’s world record jump that resulted in Great Britain’s first gold of the Tokyo Olympics. According to an October 28, 1964 AP article, the Queen told her son, Prince Andrew, that was the length Rand jumped to win the gold. “‘He just couldn’t believe that anyone could jump that far,’ the queen laughingly told Mrs. Rand at a buffet lunch at the palace Tuesday.”

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Mary Rand with daughter

Not that I am expert on the British Royal Family, but clearly the Queen was taken with Rand. To be fair, many were. She was not only an Olympic champion, she was also perceived as wholesome (with a dash of sensuality). In 1964, she was married and had a daughter and had a reputation for being “nice”, which back then was more positive in nuance. But she also drew the attention of famous rock and rollers. “Apparently Mick Jagger said he’d like to date me,” she says (in this Mirror article). “I wish he’d asked! But then again I was married to my first husband at the time and the mother of a young daughter.”

Here is how Olympic observer, Neil Allen described Rand in his book, Olympic Diary Tokyo 1964:

An Italian journalist gave a melting look at the long legs and swinging hips as Mary walked across the grass, then surveyed again the world-record long jump on the indicator board and reluctantly handed me back my binoculars, misty by now. He shook his head in amazement and pronounced the accolade, “All that and a mother too!’

If it was the sheer femininity that struck first, next must come the almost effortless superiority of Mary Rand. Under the pressure of modern sport no British man or woman has ever won an Olympic victory with such authority. Here at last was our Elliott, our Zatopek, our Wilma Rudolph. Our goddess of the arena.

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Mary Rand in Kimono with Ann Packer

The somewhat sexist comments of the era aside, Mary Rand had a rare combination of grace, power and independence that made her arguably one of the most popular women in Tokyo. Her willingness to speak her mind and not to follow the norm may have also intrigued people.

When she was 17 years old, she developed a relationship with young man from Thailand living in England, nearly marrying much to the chagrin of those around her. The “scandal” of this relationship resulted in her being expelled from school.

When she was preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, she worked at the postal office in a Guinness factory in London, which fortunately gave her the opportunity to both earn wages and train for the Olympics. And one time, her involuntary need to tell jokes got her in a little trouble: She said in the Mirror article: “One of the benefits I got there was a free Guinness in the work’s canteen at lunchtime. I jokingly told a reporter I had a half pint every day as part of my training routine. The next thing I knew there were headlines about my drinking and I got a long lecture from my coach about putting on weight.”

But Allen wrote in his book that people found Rand’s openness charming:

There are few athletes easier to interview for she is completely honest. And her great sense of fun never allows her to have a moment’s conceit about all her ability in so many events. In her greatest moment of all, in the Olympic interview room, she still had time to grin at the incredulous look on the continental journalist’s face when she said she’d ‘had a rub from Johnny’ just before the long jump. Johnny Johnson is, of course, the dedicated masseur to the British athletics team. To Mary, as always ‘life is a bit of a giggle.’

There was definitely something about Mary.