Buenos Aires 51: Whitfield, the Most Outstanding Athlete

Buenos Aires 51: Whitfield, the Most Outstanding Athlete
Fecha de publicación: 
11 September 2023
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The American runner Malvin Whitfield was the most brilliant athlete of the First Pan American Games. I don’t base my statement solely on his winning gold medals in the 400 and 800 meter races and his role as closer to the winning team in the short relay.

There were several prominent contenders like Rafael Fortún from Camagüey, the ace on teh 100 and 200 flat, with 10.6 and 21.3, and decisive man in the second place of his quartet in the 4 x 100, surpassed by the one from the U.S. 41 by 41.2 . Two of Malvin's countrymen also shone: Charles Curtis Stone, master in the 10,000 and 3,000 with obstacles, and James Fuchs, the best with the shot put and the disc throwing. Not only in athletics there were multiple winners: in swimming the Argentine Ana María Schultz stood out, with two gold and two silver medals, and the Brazilian of Japanese origin Tetsao Okamoto for her two gold medals.
For a correct review in these cases, it cannot be ignored against whom we competed, who was defeated or defeated us, the quality existing in that sport worldwide, and if such sport holds great times and records, compare them with the level of the competition stage. For example, many gymnasts from Cuba won several medals, but the quality of the tournament was very low. The truth also hits the statistics of various teams, whether in shooting, wrestling, hockey...

Ana María, queen of freestyle, 5:26.7 in 400. Curtis (U.S.) leading, 5:17.8, in London 1948, and up to the fifth place, better result than the Latin American. Four years earlier in the great classic, the Dutch Mastenbrock champion with 5:26.4. Tetsao, 4:52 in the 400 freestyle, in the 1,500, 19: 23.3; in Berlin 1936, winner Jack C. Medica(Usa): 400 in 4:44.5. In 1500, Terada, (Japan), 19:13.7.

James Fusch's shot did have a category: 17.25, because in London 1948 his countryman Wilbur Thompson reached 17.12, when he finished bronze with 16.42, a place he would repeat four years later in Helsinki 1952 with 17.06. His great record didn’t stay in 48.91 meters, and in Los Angeles 1932 his compatriot John Anderson shot 49.49 to prevail and relegate his teammate Henri Laborde to the silver medal with 48.47 meters.

The long-distance runner and hurdler covered the 3,000 with obstacles in 9 minutes and 32 seconds. The Finn Volman Iso-Hollo, the winner of the Olympiad stained by the Nazis, won with 9:03.8. The one from the United States was timed on the Argentine track with a time of 31:08 in the 10,000. In Los Angeles, the Pole Kusocinsky defeated everyone with a time of 30.11.4., followed by Iso-Hollo, owner of 30:12.6 and another athlete from Finland, Lauri Virtanen, who ended with 30:20.2.

Whitfield meet the expectations of connoisseurs who considered him a favorite based on solid foundations: London 1948, gold in the 800 (1:49.2), third in the 400 (46.6) and member of the golden relay team: 3:10.4. Four years later, he emerged victorious in the Helsinki 800 flat and finished second place in the relay race.

I don’t forget that the Brazilian triple jumper Adhemar Ferreira da Silva and the United States 400 flat racers Louis Jones broke the world records in their respective events. In my analysis of who was the most outstanding, I don’t consider them above Whitfield: despite the glory they achieved, they only contributed one medal per capita to his representation.

The winning performance of the Olympic marathon champion and standard-bearer for his country, the Argentine Delfo Cabrera is not equalled with Malvin: of course, he did not fail. Neither was the most complete, the Chilean Hernán Figueroa, by accumulating 6,610 points in the decathlon. Glenn Morris  7 900 in Berlin'36; Bob Mathias, 7,139 in London, 7,887 in Helsinki, the champions. It’s true that they rank among the best declatonists of all times. However, one must always compete against the best.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / Cubasi Translation Staff

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