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Bob Hayes dominates the 100m

The 100m title went to Bob Hayes, probably one of the fastest runners who has ever lived and certainly one of the most successful, even though his career was short. In the run-up to the Olympic Games, he appeared entirely unbeatable, winning each of 49 races in which he took part between 1962 and 1964.

Hayes set a clutch of sprinting records. He was the first person to run the 100 yards (91.4m) in 9.1 seconds, and the first person to cover 60 yards (54.8m) in less than six seconds. The form book had him down as a red-hot favourite. He won his first-round race with ease, then won his quarter-final with a similar level of comfort. The only question now remaining was whether, under pressure, he may be hampered by a leg injury he had sustained a few months previously, but the semi-final seemed to answer that final doubt. He recorded a time of 9.91 seconds, which would have smashed the world record, but was not recognised because it was wind-assisted. It was more than enough, though, to get him into the final.

He was placed in Lane 1, which had to be raked over after being badly dug up by athletes at the start of the 20km walk. Hayes was also wearing borrowed spikes, because one of his own pair was lost when it was kicked under his bed in the athletes’ village. Yet he exploded out of the blocks, took an early lead, and won by 2m, equalling the world record. It was the 49th win in a row – Hayes only lost once over 100m, and never over 100 yards (91.4m).


His final act as an athlete, though, may have been his greatest. He ran the anchor leg in the 4x100m, and took over with the USA team in fifth place. What followed was an astonishing display of speed, strength and determination as he brought the baton home with a three-metre margin. It’s believed his time for that 100m was around 8.8 secs, a remarkable pace even allowing for the flying start.

After the Games, Hayes transferred to playing professional American football and was a huge success. He spent nearly a decade playing for the Dallas Cowboys, before finishing his career with the San Francisco 49ers, and is the only person to have secured victory in both the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl.

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