My 1960-hero. Armin Hary.
It was the Rome Olympics.
It was the 100 meters final.
It was 10.0 seconds.
I was pretty quick myself, for my age and height. I was eleven that summer.
So quick, in fact, that I made to the regional track and field finals in the 60 meters competition (no 100 meters for us kids).
I am not sure who (i.e., which of my many mes at the time) actually made it to the regionals, for when it comes to the 1960 “self” I have no idea who or what I was from one day to the next.
As far as I was concerned at the time, however, I was Armin Hary.
When he ran the 100 meters final (or was it the semis, I don’t recall) he had a supporting bandage on his left calf. Probably just a precautionary measure, or he would not have run, and won who whole thing.
I’m of course not sure why his calf was bandaged, but it sure looked fast on that little black and white television, and it won him the gold medal, didn’t it?
So, in keeping with my “self” being all over the place, I bandaged my left calf for the regionals—just like Hary, just like “real” sprinters. It would make me faster; I was sure of it.
I’m not sure if people laughed at this behind my back, but I was dead serious about it, wrapped the calf good and tight. All set to go.
And then then my preliminary heat was called. We did not use starting blocks at that time, but little holes dug in the track for us to push off against. Six runners, all crouched down into these little holes, waiting for the gun.
And there I went, and there went the gun.
Well, that’s how I perceived things any way: false start on my part. So, I slowed down, ready to take my warning and try again.
Not so fast (or not so slow, rather) the starter waved me on; even though I was first out of the blocks/holes by a good meter or so, and adrenaline-rushed to charge the 60 meters to victory, I had not leapt before the gun (so gesticulated the starter), so keep running.
Well, by now I had slowed down to almost a standstill while the rest of the heat was 5-10 meters ahead of me.
I did charge after them, even caught up with the trailing two, but there was no catching the other three, so I came in fourth, and consequently knocked out of the competition.
Had I charged ahead from the start, I’d have won, easily—they all told me so.
Oh, shit, indeed.
Armin blew it.