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Thoms wins race against clock

Thoms wins race against clock

01/08/1980

Few Olympic events place the protagonists in such cold isolation as a track cycling time trial.

Man or woman and machine in a race against the clock, no other competitors in sight. Those hours and hours of intense training finally put to the test in the cauldron of Olympic competition where there is no second chance.

The absence of the Americans due to the boycott weakened the field to a degree, but otherwise the finest track cyclists convened at the Trade Unions Olympic Sports Centre, the track cycling venue at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.

East Germany’s Lothar Thoms was at the peak of his game: he was one of only two riders ever to have won the 1km time-trial at the world championships four years in a row, and Moscow came right in the middle of that blistering run.

As Thoms took to the track in front of an expectant crowd, his target had been set.

Kazakhstan-born Russian cyclist Aleksandr Panfilov had set the fastest time of the final with one minute 4.845 seconds. Then all eyes were on Thoms.

The crowd hushed as the starting horn sounded and Thoms was away. Head bowed, he rode the perfect race, never losing his thundering rhythm or focus as he continually set the fastest split times.

As he crossed the line there were gasps of amazement at the time on the velodrome scoreboard: a new Olympic and world record of 1minute 2.955 seconds, and the 63-second barrier had been broken for the first time.

Such was the impact of his victory that, despite the cascade of golds won by the East Germans in Moscow that year, it was the 24-year-old from Brandenburg who claimed his country’s sports personality of the year award.

Discover the best photos of Moscow 1980

  • Opening Ceremony Moscow 1980

    The final torchbearer, basketballer Sergei Belov, in the Moscow Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony

    ©IOC

  • Relay Moscow 1980

    A torchbearer during the Moscow 1980 Games Torch relay

    ©IOC

  • Aleksandr Dityatin (URS)

    Aleksandr Dityatin on the rings at the Moscow 1980 Games

    ©IOC

  • Winner's medal Moscow 1980

    The reverse of this medal is very different from its obverse. However, it is not the work of the same artist. While the obverse was a creation by Giuseppe Cassioli, the reverse was designed by Ilya Postol, a young Soviet sculptor. We can see several elements that stand out through their stylisation: an Olympic cauldron, an athletics track in the background and the official logo of the Moscow Games on the top right ©CIO

  • Winner's medal Moscow 1980

    The obverse comprises a design by Tuscan artist Giuseppe Cassioli. This motif can be found on the obverse of all the winner’s medals presented at the Summer Games since 1928 with the exception of three special cases: Barcelona'92, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. An inscription, in Cyrillic, allows us to make the link with the Moscow Games. This is its transcription in the Latin alphabet and its translation: “Igry XXII Olympiady Moskva 1980” / “Games of the XXII Olympiad, Moscow 1980”©IOC

  • Opening Ceremony Moscow 1980

    View of the delegations standing in front of the Misha mascot created by the public holding up boards

    ©IOC

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