It was fifty years ago today- October 13, 1968- at the Mexico City Olympics- the first track and field final- the 10,000- the big question going into the games was how will the elevation 7350 feet above sea level effect the track and field events. No games had been held at such a high elevation. The events that were expected to be effected in a negative way were the track events of 400 metres and above. The 10,000 metres is the longest race in the games save the Marathon.
In the 10,000 metres due to the length of the race to begin with there is no qualification heats- just the finals- and 37 competitors were entered from 23 different nations. The big rivalry going in was between the countries of Kenya and Ethiopia. It was a great race which was won by Kenya’s Nafali Temu who outsprinted Ethiopia’s Mamo Wolde to win Kenya’s first ever Gold Medal. Mohamad Gammoudi of Tunisia was the bronze. The difference between Temu and Wolde was only .6 of a second. Australian Ron Clarke the holder of seventeen world records finished sixth. Clarke would be on the the greatest track athletes who never won a gold medal- his only medal was in the 1964 Tokyo Games- a bronze in this event. The top American finisher Tracy Smith 11th place.