Friday, September 3, 2010

Heroes on Every Hand.(Sport).

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Some day they'll make baseball an Olympic sport, and the World Series will be played some place else besides Yankee Stadium. The Dominican Republic will probably win it, of course, but Americans can always cry on the shoulders of the Japanese. Last week, for the first time in Olympic history, judo was on the calendar. The Japanese took three gold medals. But a 6-ft. 5-in. Dutchman named Anton Geesink won the open championship, and the U.S., which got its first real introduction to judo on Guadalcanal, won a bronze medal when Virginia's Jim Bregman wound up third in the middleweight class.

In all, there were 20 different sports in the 1964 Olympics, most of them events that Americans had rarely heard of or had forgotten all about. Take field hockey-a Vassar girls' game in the U.S. But when the Pakistanis took on the Indians in the finals, it was the fight for Kashmir all over again. The only goal of the game was scored by India's Mohinder Lai, 28, a railroad worker from Saharanpur, who set off a delirious, snake-dancing demonstration by rifling a penalty shot past the Pakistani goalie-thereby becoming an instant national hero. "I'm certain that they will promote me to senior welfare inspector of the railways," said Lai. "They will have to, because of what I did for my country."

Cast in Steel. Everyone knows that Dan'l Boone could shoot the eyes out of a potato at 500 paces. But when Montana's Lones Wigger Jr., 27, won two medals in riflery at Tokyo (one gold, one silver), it came as a distinct shock to many U.S. sports fans who never gave a thought to the U.S. shooting team. Americans used to be big on bicycle racing-but that was long ago, before the two-car family. If the settlers hadn't tried to kill off all the Indians, the U.S. might have done better in canoeing. As it was, a Swede who paddled 3,000 weary kilometers in practice won the 1,000-meter kayak race by 15/100 of a second. In gymnastics, Americans who cheat on pushups could only gape in astonishment as the incredibly graceful Russian girls danced off with the women's-team championship, and Japan's Yukio Endo, 27-poised on the parallel bars as if cast in steel-scored an incredible 115.95 out of a possible 120 points to win the gold medal in the men's all-round competition.

In the U.S., volleyball is something old men play at Grossinger's. But it was on the Olympic program last week, and it's a good thing Japan did not send her women off to war. Led by Captain Masae Kasai, 31, who broke her engagement to train for the Olympics, punctuating every shot with banzai choruses of "Hai! Hail", the Japanese women's team beat Russia so badly in the finals that the Muscovite ladies shut themselves in the locker room for a good cry.

The Japanese girls learned their volleyball under Coach Hirobumi Daimatsu of the national-champion Nichibo Spinning Co. team. He cheerfully suggests that his training methods are "savage." Billeted in dormitories at the Nichibo plant, the girls do clerical work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., practice daily from 4:30 right through until midnight with only one 15-min. break. A typical practice exercise: the "receive," a tumbling acrobatic maneuver in which the girls hurl themselves to the floor to retrieve the ball-until they are so exhausted that they cannot get up any more. At that point, Coach Daimatsu usually snarls: "Why don't you quit?"

The Original Sport. And when it came to wrestling, one of the original Olympic sports, the Masked Avenger would have hung his head in shame at the way the honest grapplers fought in Tokyo. Under Greco-Roman rules, they were not even allowed to touch each other below the hips. Americans were shut out of the finals, but that hardly mattered to Turkey's Kazim Ayvaz, 27, who won his country's second gold medal of the Games by beating Rumania's Valeriu Bularca for the lightweight championship.

A blocky (5 ft. 5 in., 154 lbs.), bull-necked construction worker, Ayvaz flabbergasted fans with his spectacular salto hold: falling backward, he would arch his neck into an "unbreakable bridge"-then casually flip over and pin his opponents. Last week, standing on the awards platform, Ayvaz was struck by a thought: "I realized that I had never been out with a girl to dance, or hold hands, or watch the moon. No drinking, no smoking, just wrestling from morning to night and dreaming about that gold medal all the time."

Source Citation
"Heroes on Every Hand.(Sport)." Time 30 Oct. 1964: 63. General OneFile. Web. 3 Sept. 2010.
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Gale Document Number:A195909386

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