At nine minutes past four this afternoon, C. W. Brasher of the Achilles Club finished first in the Olympic 3,000 metres steeplechase in 8 minutes, 41.2 seconds – 4.2 seconds inside the Olympic record, but it was not for another three hours that he and the rest of us knew for certain he had won Great Britain's first gold medal in the athletics section since A. G. K. Brown, G. L. Rampling, F.F. Wolff and W. Roberts took the 4x 400 metres at Berlin 20 years ago.
Immediately after the finish it was announced that the result could not be given until the report of an umpire had been received, and ten minutes later it was announced that the race had been won by Rozsnyol of Hungary, who finished fifteen yards behind Brasher and that the Englishman had been disqualified for interference with another runner on the first bend of the last lap.
This was received with great surprise for although the runners had been so tightly bunched that the physical contact clearly had taken place, it had been a sporting, orderly race, far more so than many others in the 800 metres and the following 1,500 metres heats about which no complaint was made.
Neutral journalists expressed their astonishment to British colleagues. Rozsnyol was as astonished as them, and Laufer, the German, who was promoted from fourth to third, said he did not want the bronze medal. It came as no surprise when it was announced a few minutes later that Brasher had appealed to the jury of appeal against his disqualification.
The jury could not meet until nearly six o'clock and just over an hour later it issued the followed statement which was received with prolonged cheers in the stadium: "The jury of the LAAF considered the appeal against the disqualification of C. W. Brasher in the 3,000 metres steeplechase. After hearing the evidence of all those concerned, including the two athletes affected, the jury decided unanimously to allow the appeal and Brasher is therefore placed first. The jury consider that Brasher and E. Larsen came into contact with each other, but that it was unintentional and both athletes stated that it did not affect their running," signed Exeter, president of the jury.
The race itself was a great one and greatly won. Disley led from the gun, but by the end of the half lap which starts this race, Larsen of Norway was cutting out a fast pace and led in 35.2 seconds. He went much faster in the second lap covering it in 66.5 seconds and taking a lead of fifteen yards from Rozsnyol, Rhzishchin (Russia), Disley, Jones of the United States, Brasher, and Shirley.
When Larsen dropped to 70.7 seconds for the second lap, they cut his lead to ten yards and after a third lap in 71.6 seconds, were right on his trail. Shirley now having moved to fourth in front of Disley.
The fourth lap took longest of all, 73 seconds, but by now the early pace killed all except Larsen, Rhzishchin, Rozsnyol, Brasher, Shirley and Disley, who were running in that order.
Rhzishchin now decided to have a go and led through the fifth lap in 72.9 seconds, and the sixth in 69.1 seconds, but he could not shake off the other five, and at the bell they still were in a tight little group.
Going round the first bend there was the unintentional and harmless touching and then, as they came to the hurdle at the start of the back straight, Brasher struck with all he had, slipped Rozsnyol and Larsen, and even was three, four, and five yards up on Rhzishchin before any of them counter-attacked.
No doubt they were expecting the blow to come from Shirley or Disley as indeed, even most of Brasher's admirers here were. Moreover, Brasher had the bit between his teeth and showed no signs of slackening.
In vain the quickly spreading field chased him. With every yard he gained a few precious inches and even thought he was nearly out on this feet he ran himself right out exactly at the tape before collapsing on to the grass just beyond it.
Brasher's success is a fitting reward for a man who has had few natural gifts for running except a stout heart and willingness to train and train. The assistance he gave R. G. Bannister in training for and achieving the first four minute mile should never be forgotten.
He has run many splendid races for Britain in international matches and he has always been handicapped, as he was at Helsinki where he also reached the final, by attacks of hay fever.
Rugby School, Cambridge University, his club of which he has been a devoted member, and his country all have reason to be proud of him.
Rhzishchin paid the penalty for making a vain strike and was overhauled by the Hungarian and Norwegian, but Disley, rather surprisingly found no final sort and Shirley faded badly and was overtaken by Robbins of Australia.
Shirley remains the most baffling of Britain's three, in his heat a world beater, today only ordinary.
Britain soon lost their two semi-finalists in the 400 metres. Salisbury again had cruel luck with the draw, and in spite of doing 47.3 seconds, his best ever was a poor fifth. Gosper set a new Australian record of 46.2 seconds, but even this left him only fourth to Jenkins and Hellsten each of whom did 46.1 seconds, and Haas.
The other semi-final was child's play for Ignatyev, M. C. Spence (South Africa), and Jones. Higgins drawn next to the outside went too fast and faded right away in the straight.
The final was a strange race and showed how even the greatest quarter-milers can miscalculate their strength in the excitement of an Olympic final. The draw was from the inside, Spence, Ignatyev, Hellsten, Jenkins, Haas, Jones: Ignatyev had everything in his favour, the two Americans almost everything against them.
Jones the outside man, went off at such a terrific pace that he reached 200 metres in 21.8 seconds, and yet had gained only two yards on the Russian.
Hellsten and Jenkins seemed by comparison to be dawdling and Haas to be keeping the only even keel. Coming into the straight, Ignatyev possibly led Jones by inches, but then they both were undone in the long pull of 100 metres against the strong and bitter wind which blew all day chilling fingers and muscles.
Jenkins came with a beautiful run and got clear, Haas kept on moving well into second place and Hellsten caught and dead-heated with Ignatyev, and Jones finally took as much as 48.1 seconds.
The difference in times between the fast semi-final and the final in 46.7 seconds was due almost entirely to the growing wind and chill of evening.
The Australian girls seem certain to win another title in the 200 metres. Cuthbert's 23.5 seconds in the early afternoon and 23.6 seconds at ten to six in the evening especially were wonderful performances and she made even Stubnick look a selling plater.
Paul won the other semi-final in much slower time and will do extremely well to beat either Stubnick or Matthews in the final. Armitage was well below her best in Paul's semi-final and Scrivens and all the Russians also were put out decisively.
Britain's three competitors all ran well in qualifying for the final of the 1,500 metres. On paper Boyd looked to have an almost impossible task aginst men like Richtzenhain (Germany), Jungwirth (Czechoslovakia), Halberg (New Zealand), Barthel, the holder from Luxembourg and Rozsavolgyl, the Hungarian world's record holder, but he moved up firmly to second place behind the German in the second full lap, stayed there determinedly and was passed only by Jungwirth.
The race might have been beyond him, however had not Rozsavolgyl's training been so seriously interrupted by the recent troubles in Hungary that he never was even a shadow of himself. Had Rozsavolhyl been in at the death Halberg naturally would have applied much more pressure.
Wood and Hewson kept out of trouble, moved up easily when they wanted to, and seemed to have a world of power in reserve. The last heat Hewso's, was marred by an accident at the start of the final back straight when Hermann, a great German runner was solked and put right off the track in a mix-up which may also have affected Landy, Nielsen and Waern Scoft, the second New Zealander.
Hewson got right away whereas Landy was hard put to qualify and Nielsen got fourth and last qualifying place from Waern after examination of a photograph. Landy ran the race from behind and looked definitely unfit for racing of the class the final is sure to be.
Delaney qualified calmly and easily and Lincoln was most impressive but there seems no reason why Wood or Hewson should not win if all goes well with them in any rough and tumble work there may be.
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