Borzov times it right with history-making sprint double

The 100m is the blue riband event at any Olympic Games, but this time there was a slight element of farce before the final was reached.

The favourite for gold was the Ukrainian sprinter Valery Borzov, now  running for the Soviet Union. But he was expected to face a strong challenge from Americans Eddie Hart and Rey Robinson, both of whom had been timed at 9.9secs in the US Olympic Trials.

The second round of races was due to start at 4.45pm on August 31. The problem was, the three Americans, along with their coach, were using an old timetable that showed the races starting at 7pm. As they queued for a bus to the stadium, they were surprised to see 100m races on the television.

They asked if they were repeat broadcasts of the first round, and were stunned when told - “no, it's live”. Horrified, Robinson realised he was watching the very heat that he was supposed to be taking part in.

The three athletes were rushed to the stadium, but it was too late for Hart and Robinson, who had both missed their races and were now out of the competition with no chance of an appeal. Taylor just had time to put on his spikes, lower himself on to the starting blocks and run his race. To his credit, and despite the chaos around him, he finished second behind Borzov.

The next day, it would be exactly the same result as Borzov took gold in 10.14secs, just ahead of Taylor and Jamaica's Lennox Miller.

Borzov went on to win the 200m, beating another American, Larry Black, into second place. Borzov had been so relaxed in the opening rounds that, at one point, he even spoke to one of the other runners as he overtook him. In the final, he looked over his shoulder with five metres to go and, seeing that he was clear of the field, threw his arms wide as he crossed the line. He was the first non-North American to win the Olympic sprint double.


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