OUR OLYMPIC CHANCES
H. H. ROXBOROUGH
Only in the shorter races do Canadian prospects appear rosy, but Olympic meets are full of surprises
WHEN the Canadian expedition of sport warriors sailed for Amsterdam in 1928 the impression of the stay-at-homes was that, while the morale and fighting spirit of the athletes were splendid, their ability was only fair and victories would be neither plentiful nor sensational.
The chesterfield exerts were confounded and the prophets of the press dishonored, however, for the lads and lasses who had shown only reasonably good performances in the Canadian sham battles became athletic heroes when faced with the realities of Olympic warfare.
That underrated expeditionary force achieved undisputed world supremacy in women’s athletics; gained fourth place among forty nations, and produced the outstanding athlete of the Olympiad in Percy Williams.
Are our athletic ambassadors to the Tenth Modem Olympiad at Los Angeles likely to repeat the triumphs of the 1928 team?
The numerical strength of our 1932 team will be below that of the Amsterdam group. This cutting down is prompted by the money shortage and a stiffening of standards. In 1928 about $90,000 was sjient on the Olympiad. 1 his year, cash boxes are so heavily guarded that it is doubtful if half the former appropriation will be available.
The world scarcity of money and the exchange situation in United States, however, may work to our advantage by reducing the numerical strength of overseas nations and thus eliminating some competition. Furthermore, European stars will be handicapped through conditions arising from the distance from the home liase to the fighting ground.
In making any estimate of our chances, we must remember tliat within the next few weeks potential world champions may break down in intensive training; comparatively unknown athletes may blossom into champions; nations which contemplated sending large delegations may resent decisions of International officials and withdraw their teams. W’e should also remember that comparative records do not tell the whole story, for men without records, like El Ouafi. the Algerian who won the 1928 marathon, sometimes produce marvellous performances. Other athletes possess sensational speed in one race, but lack the stamina and persistence to sustain that effort through heats, semi-finals and finals. Still others never break records but perform liest when the test is most severe.
In many events, however, the differences between Canadian records and those recently made in other lands are great.
For instance, the disparity between Canada’s weight throwers and those in other Olympic countries is so wide that the Dominion would be ill-advised to send more than one competitor.
Better Records Made Elsewhere
/CONSIDER putting the sixteen-pound shot. At Amster^ dam, the competitor in sixth place reached a distance exceeding 48 feet. Since then the United States has develojied nine putters with marks beyond 49 feet. Noel, France; Viding, Esthonia; Daranyi, Hungary; David, Roumania; are each likely to attain 50 feet; Hirschfield, Germany; Saxton and Brix, United States; have surpassed 52 feet; while Douda, Czechoslovakia, has a brand new record of 54 feet 5 inches. There is not a shot-putter in Canada who can consistently better 45 feet.
Similarly, in throwing the sixteen-pound hammer. The liest point gatherer at Amsterdam attained a distance beyond 153 feet. During the last few months, Flanagan and Dykeman, United States, exceeded 157 feet; Skold, Sweden, bettered 162 feet; O’Callaghan, Ireland, has thrown the iron ball more than 189 feet. No Canadian in recent years has reached a distance of 150 feet.
Like conditions exist in the discus-throwing competition. There were 44 competitors at the Holland Olympiad and sixth place was gained with a throw of about 145 feet. Since then United States has developed four saucer tossers who can improve upon that distance. Hungary has a quartet who can consistently heave the discus between 150 feet and 160 feet. Vaalamo and Kenntna, Finland; Karlson, Sweden, and Feldman, Esthonia, can attain 150 feet; while Remecz, Hungary; and Winter, France, have gone beyond 160 feet. The 1931 Canadian championship was won with a throw' of 124 feet.
In javelin throwing, IXiral Pilling, an Alberta citizen and former student in the United States, should prevent Canada from being outclassed. Pilling is a consistent tosser to a distance of 200 feet ; but sixth at Amsterdam was 207 feet. De Mers, United States, has reached 211 feet; Suksi. Finland, 217 feet; Lay, New Zealand, has exceeded 222 feet, while Sule, Esthonia, and Jarvinen, Finland, have approached 230 feet.
Thus it is reasonably evident that Canada’s hope in the javelin is but a flicker; while not a single ray of light is visible in the other weight events.
An almost identical situation prevails in the four jumps;
the running broad, running high, hop, step and jump, and pole vault.
The shortest distance to win points in the running broad jump at the Ninth Olympiad was slightly over 24 feet. During the intervening years Tonani, Italy; Kocherman, Germany; Hallberg, Sweden; de Boer, Holland, and five United States leapers have gone beyond that Olympic minimum; while Boyle, United States, has passed 25 feet, and Cator, Haiti, and Nambu, Japan, have jurqped more than 26 feet. The longest distance recorded by a Canadian in many years has been 23 feet 7 Y¿ inches.
In the running high jump, the Dominion has two capable performers in the persons of Jack Portland, a Collingwood lad, and Duncan McNaughton, a Vancouver youth attending the University of Southern California, the latter having been credited with an altitude of 6 feet 3 Y¿ inches. But even these two should experience considerable difficulty at Los Angeles, for athletes in France, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Finland and the Philippine Islands have recently soared beyond 6 feet 3 inches; while the United States has at least ten jumpers who have records of 6 feet 5 inches or higher, one of these being George Spitz, who has leaped 6 feet 8 Y inches.
In the past two Olympiads, Victor Pickard has gathered points for Canada in pole-vaulting, and if he chooses to compete again and can still exceed the 13-feet standard, he will have a chance to place. But even in this event the competition has intensified, for Pamadier, France; Lindblad, Sweden, and Nishida, Japan, have each topped 13 feet, and the United States has fourteen vaulters who have attained the same height, of whom seven have exceeded 13 feet 9 inches. So a pole vaulter must consistently reach over 13 feet to justify a trip to California with all expenses ¡laid.
During the 1930 Empire Games, Gordon Smallacombe, of Toronto, covered 48 feet 5 inches in the hop, step and jump, and appeared to be destined for Olympic fame, particularly when a jumper with a distance four inches shorter was included in the Amsterdam Roll of Honor. Since that masterly demonstration, how'ever, this splendid prospect has failed to equal his performance, while the specialists of other lands have registered improvement. For example, Makinen, Finland, and Kuttim, Esthonia, have approached 49 feet; Peters, Holland, and Dimse, Latvia, have jumped within a couple of inches of 50 feet ; while Oda, the Japanese record crasher, has been checked at 51 feet 1 Y inches.
Thus, in the four Olympic jumps, Pickard, Smallacombe, McNaughton or Portland could respectably represent Canada, but their likelihood of becoming point winners would lie dependent upon improvement greatly beyond their present consistency.
Long Distance Races
TN RECENT Olympiads the strength of the Dominion has
rested with her runners, but even in the races there are some events in which foreign stars so decisively outclass our national champions that any nominations for such races would appear to be hopeless.
One of these events is the 10,000-metre race. The best time credited to a native son was recorded in 1930, when Billy Reynolds, of Galt, covered the distance in a couple of seconds better than 33 minutes. Since the 1928 games Kusccinski, Poland; Lindgren, Sweden; Sabala, Argentina; Lippi. Italy, and Nurmi, Finland, have all been clocked in times well below 32 minutes; while Hollo, another Finnish celebrity, has run the course in 30 minutes, 50%seconds.
The difficulty of placing in the 10,000-metre jaunt is also
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evidenced in the 5,000-metre race. At this distance, corresponding to about 3 miles, Canada is without a prospect, and the Olympic title seems destined to fall to Ritola, Lehtinen or Virtanen, Finland; Kusccinski, Poland; Boitard, France; Lippi, Italy; Morales, Mexico, and Evenson or Winfield, England.
The 3,000-metre steeplechase is another of those middle-distance contests that provides small opportunity for Canadian athletes because this event is rarely on a national programme. The contention will be furnished by Joe McCluskey, of the United States, and a flock of English and European cross-country gallopers.
Another race almost foreign to Canuck athletes is the 400-metres hurdles event. Unless Tom Coulter, a Winnipeg boy now attending Carnegie Technical Institute, can speedily develop, it would appear that Burleigh, England; Facelli, Italy; Peterson, Sweden, and Beatty or Borke, United States, will fight it out for the highly prized gold medal.
In still another event, the important 1,500-metre race, it appears that Canada’s chance of victory is as black as a total eclipse. Jack Walters, Pete Walters and Eddie King, who have been specializing in athletics and other subjects at United States universities, are possibly our best milers, but the fastest time recorded by a Canadian in 1.500 metres has been four minutes, and the sixth runner at Holland was timed nearly two seconds faster. Since then Ladoumegue, France; Purje, Finland; Thomas, England, have touched or improved upon 3 minutes, 54 seconds; while Becalli, Italy; Venzke, Lermond, Nordell or Crowley, United States, and a reputed world beater now in the Indian Army, would likely compel the 1932 Olympic champion to establish a new world’s record.
It therefore seems reasonable to assume that, based on performances up to writing time, Canada lacks a potential champion in four jumps, four weight events and five I races.
But even without a single approach to victory in all those thirteen competitions, Canada still has an opportunity to be recognized as one of the leading powers in any 1 league of Athletic Nations. It is reassuring j to recall that in four great races at Amsterdam—100, 2(X). 400 and 800 metres—the ; Dominion led the world. In these events, j according to the generally accepted method of scoring, Canada earned 30 points, Great : Britain 23. United States 20. and Germany I 19; while Jimmy Ball came so close to gaini ing first honors in the 400-metres event that ! there is a temptation to add another five marks for a moral victory.
Naturally, therefore, the success of Canada's 1932 team depends greatly upon the ability of our sprinters and short distance runners. The actual condition of our talent will not be definitely known until the national trials in mid-July, but it now appears that our 100 and 200 metre entrants will be selected from Johnny Fitzpatrick and Ralph Adams, former Olympic competitors; B. Pearson, a promising schoolboy star; Dud Powell, Wright T. Ritchie and W. Robinson; also the hero of the Amsterdam Olympiad, Percy Williams.
Four years ago the Vancouver lad startled the athletic world by winning both Olympic sprints; two years ago he continued his winning ways in every important indoor dash in the United States and Canada, and further maintained his reputation by winning the 100 yards Imperial title. But,
¡ unfortunately, in that century sprint at ; Hamilton. Percy pulled a tendon and was compelled to retire from further competition. Last year he ran sparingly and did not appear to regain his speed, but this year his letters to eastern friends suggest a restoration of strength and dash. If the flashy Westerner is in proper condition, his stamina, determination and drive are almost
irresistible, and the rest of the world can prepare for battle.
In the sprints and 400 metres relay, outstanding victories depend greatly upon the condition of one gifted star; but in the 400 and 800 metres races, Canada has several talented possibilities, any one of whom may be the first to hit the worsted in the California combats.
Possible Point Winners
TNCLUDED in this galaxy of quarter and
half-milers are Jimmy Ball, Phil Edwards, Brant Little, Fred Shaver, Lacey and Alex Wilson.
Four years ago Ball was just about the leading man among the world’s 400-metre talent; he even proved himself an embryo champion at 200 metres. But since then his drive has lessened; his progress has been checked; his 1932 indoor races were mediocre efforts. However. I have been informed that the Manitoba flyer is seriously training, and if Ball can regain his 1928 form Canada will have cause for pride.
Similarly, with Phil Edwards, the colored half-miler and possibly the best stylist in the track-racing kingdom. In 1928 Edwards was "good enough;” in 1930 he was a member of the Empire team that conquered the starry United States half-milers in Chicago; in March of this year he represented McGill University in the Canadian Intercollegiate indoor championship and uncorked a dazzling demonstration. Phil Edwards should again gather points.
Brant Little, formerly a Winnipeg halfmiler and more recently a Notre Dame University student, was barely nosed out of an opportunity to compete in the 800metres final at Amsterdam. Since then Little has improved. His ability is recognized in United States competition, and he is a real prospect.
Since the Holland Olympiad a young Hamilton schoolboy, Fred Shaver, has developed into an international celebrity. He has shown greater improvement than any other middle distance runner, and is certain to fight courageously for a position on the California expeditionary force.
In addition to the group already mentioned there is a possibility that Lacey, an English-born youth who for six years has been a resident in the United States and a Colgate University quarter-miler, may be taken into the Canadian camp.
But most promising of all the native sons is Alex Wilson, former Montreal runner and now a Notre Dame University student athlete. Even four years ago this sturdy galloper was a real threat in any international competition; since the Amsterdam meet many brilliant performances have been recorded by him. In 1930 he won the 440 yards championship of the British Empire, finished third in the half-mile race, and ran a wonderful quarter in the Imperial onemile relay: then, in that memorable duel between the Empire and United States, Wilson ran the final leg in the one-mile relay and breasted the finish tape in advance of the illustrious American stars. Wilson’s indoor races have also been masterly exhibitions, and during the last three consecutive seasons he has captured one of the most important of international indoor events, the famous Millrose 600 yards race.
Thus Canada, with Wilson, Edwards, Ball. Little. Shaver and possibly Lacey, can provide rare talent for the 400 and 800 metres relays, and also a 1,600-metres relay team that will be beaten by only a superteam of fresh runners who will not have borne the strain of the individual races.
But there are also other events with possibilities. In the 110-metres hurdles race Canada has in Art Ravensdale. a former Cobourg boy. the best Canadian hurdler developed in the last decade. Ravensdale is not expected to win the Olympic title, but he is a gifted timber topper and might win a place.
The historic Marathon race is an event that inspires every nation, and generally j the gruelling grind has been captured by ! runners who were apparently overlooked in the pre-race prophecies. This year it is the prevailing impression, however, that if Nurmi is reinstated and competes in this event he will win it. If Nurmi does not race, then it is not beyond possibility that Cliff Bricker, a Galt runner, may bring back to Canada the title won by Bill Sherring. of Hamilton, at Athens in 1906.
This year a 50.000 metres walk has been added to the Olympic programme, and not only Canadians but also the rest of the world’s walking authorities are prepared to admit that “Hank” Ciernan, a product of Toronto Central Walkers’ Club, is the man to beat in this lengthy hike. Last year Ciernan entered in the United States 50,000 metres walking championship, arrived at the starting line fifteen minutes after the others had gone, was permitted to begin, soon caught the leaders and easily won the title. Ciernan has speed, endurance, and clean style. Something may yet happen to mar his chances, but to most folks he is Canada’s outstanding first-place possibility.
It thus appears that prospects for success in the men’s games at the Tenth Olympiad are now brighter than were the Ninth Olympiad indications at the same pre-game period.
Keen Competition For Women
IN OUR women’s events, however, the conditions are reversed, for in 1928 we knew we had feminine talent. This year, with possibly one exception, an entirely new team will enter the Los Angeles games, and its success will depend upon the speedy development of comparatively inexperienced contestants rather than upon the efforts of mature stars.
The acceptance of the entry of Ethel Catherwood MacLaren without competing in Canadian trials is being debated, but it would appear that this Canadian athlete, who is now a California resident, has undoubted ability and could gather points ' for the Dominion in both the high jump and javelin throw.
In the two women’s races, 100 metres, and 400 metres relay, Canada has many prospects. Four years ago the talent was concentrated in Toronto district. This year Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Orillia, Hamilton, New Liskeard, Toronto. Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax will each have promising sprinters in provincial and .national trials. Surely in that flock of hopefuls an international champion will be found.
But the Canadian girls in Los Angeles will have to face keener opposition than did the famous sextette at Amsterdam. In the sprints, the United States will have the 1928 champk/n, Betty Robinson, and also Stella Walsh, who is probably the world’s fastest feminine runner; while Fräulein Thymm, of Germany, and Miss Werne, of Australia, have made remarkable times in recent performances.
This year the 80-metres hurdles race is added, and Canada should be well represented by either Miss Wilson, of Toronto, or Miss Taylor from Hamilton. But even these two capable hurdlers would have to be truly sensational to defeat Miss Clark, South Africa; Miss Green, England; Miss Jacobson. Sweden, and Miss Filkey or Miss Didrikson, United States. Indeed, this Miss Didrikson is so confident of her own ability that she believes she can, singlehanded. win enough points to make her country the Olympic women champions.
Canadian girls will battle courageously in their attempt to retain the world crown, but only the most optimistic expect them to do it.
CANADA is also likely to be represented by boxers and wrestlers; oarsmen, swimmers and divers; fencers and a lacrosse team.
This country has usually been well represented in boxing, and in 1932 the quantity of our glove men is high. In one tournament
j conducted at London. Ontario, there were sixty-eight entries, hut quantity does not assure quality. One of our best informed boxing officials tells me that while such boxers as Stewart, Canzano, Cook, Phillips, Gwynnc, Genovese or Keller are good, they are not likely to win titles; and he also recalls that in the Empire Boxing Championships of 1930 not a single Canadian captured any of the eight finals.
In the wrestling section the prospects are brighter, for at the same Imperial Tournament Canadian mat men won every one of seven competitions.
In rowing, swimming and diving, the extent of Canada’s entrants will be determined by the money market.
In the swimming races it would appear that Canadian girls do not measure up to the standards of the United States, Holland, South Africa, Germany or England. In men’s races, however, our champions compare more favorably. M. Bourne, George Burleigh. Gibson, Ault or Aubin are worthy racers, though not sufficiently outstanding 1 to warrant prophecy of victories. It may be, however, that Canada will adopt three
Spence brothers who are Britishers from British Guiana, and who have been leaders in record-breaking swims in United States waters. The addition of these stars to the group of Canadian champions would present a formidable team. In diving competitions, Alf Phillips, point-winner at Amsterdam, should improve his former Olympic rating.
This year our fencers desire to test their skill against the swordsmen of Europe, and if present plans materialize they, too, will send a team to California.
In most of the sports already mentioned the Olympic problem is one of money rather than material; but in lacrosse the issue strangely has been that of ability rather than finances.
In 1931 Brampton won the Canadian championship and the right to represent the Dominion in the Olympic demonstration matches with the United States and England. Until quite recently the Brampton team was intact and the hustling townsmen were promising to raise the necessary expenses. Since then, professional lacrosse promoters have so raided the 1931 championship team that hardly a star remains.