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24 Jul 1976
Montreal 1976

Crawford stuns favourites to win 100m gold - Athletics

When Trinidad and Tobago’s Hasely Crawford burst out of his blocks in 100m final at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, he was full of youthful optimism, focus and hope.

But within a matter of strides his dream lay in ruins; his hamstring torn as the USSR’s Valeriy Borzov burst clear to win gold.

Punching the air in frustration, Crawford did not finish the race, his face a picture of agony and frustration.

However, he also knew his best chance to clinch the crown of world’s fastest man would come in four years’ time.

Crawford was the seventh of 11 children and was not immediately marked out as a potential world-class sprinter.

He flitted between playing football, cricket and sprinting before a school coach encouraged him to develop his speed. Before long he was easily beating his fellow pupils over 60m and 100m.

He joined the Brooklyn Athletics Club and his running career and education were progressing well when his father tragically died from heart complications.

Subsequently, his athletic career flourished and he backed it up with improving results at school, where he focused on training to become a machinist.
He arrived at the 1972 Games in Munich as a raw, impetuous 22-year-old and he qualified for the 100m final, after finishing second behind the great Soviet runner Borzov in the semi-final.

Then disaster struck in the final. Within just a handful of strides he was pulling up and his race was over.

By the time Montreal hosted the Olympics in 1976, Crawford was a more finished product.

He cruised through his heats with some assurance, winning his semi-final against the great Don Quarrie of Jamaica and even throwing him a brooding glance as the pair crossed the line.

Despite the fact that Crawford looked as smooth as silk in the run-up to the final, most observers felt the battle for gold was between Borzov, Quarrie and the USA’s Harvey Glance.

As the sprinters settled into their blocks, with Crawford drawn on the inside lane, there was an expectant hush.

Crawford got a terrific start and none of his rivals could then overhaul him. He crossed the lane just ahead of a fast-finishing Quarrie to secure a first ever Olympic gold for Trinidad and Tobago.

The stunned Crawford continued bounding round the Olympic track, almost as if in disbelief at the result.

Four years later he failed to qualify for the 100m final and he endured another disaster in the 200m when at the head of the bend his hamstring tore once again.

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