Boston Leaps Beyond Owens into History
The greatest ever mass assault on the track & field record book.
By Earl Gustkey, Los Angeles Times
Whatever the 8,650 paid for their tickets at Mt. San Antonio College stadium 39 years ago tonight, they got more than their money’s worth.
The 1960 U.S. Olympic track & field team had scheduled a “conditioning meet” for Mt. SAC, a tuneup before the team left for the Rome Olympics.
Some tuneup. What ensued was a night of world record-breaking the likes of which no one had ever seen.
And the first record was the biggest one. Ralph Boston, a 21-year-old Tennessee A&I student, broke the oldest record on the books, Jesse Owens‘ legendary long jump mark of 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches set at the 1935 Big Ten meet at Michigan.
Before his record leap of 26-11 1/4, Boston spiked himself in the leg, incurring a wound requiring three stitches.
Next, Kansas’ Bill Nieder launched the shotput 65-10, bettering his own pending WR mark of 65-7.
Then a mile relay team of Eddie Southern, Earl Young, Otis Davis and Jack Yerman ran 3:05.6.
Two more Americans tied world records: sprinter Dave Sime with a 10.1-second 100 meters and Rink Babka with a 196-6 discus throw.
High jumper John Thomas broke the listed world high jump mark with a 7-2 leap, but he already had a 7-3 3/4 jump pending, from the U.S. team trials at Stanford earlier in the summer.
Boston cleared 26 feet on four of his six jumps, something no one–including Owens–had ever done.
NOTE: Hal Connolly also broke the Hammer Throw world record on that magical day that produced 7 world records!