Today’s DR is one of the most popular runners in history. The largest running community in the world – US runners – just voted him the greatest American runner in middle and long distance history.
This is Jim Ryan! He was 73 years old. In 1964 Ryan became the 1st schoolboy to run a mile out of 4 minutes (17 years old).
This is a photo of Jim’s finish that is deserved # 2 in the history of running:
And my favorite quote: “Running is pain. If you are not ready to endure pain, then you have to choose another sport!”
Jim talks, of course, about competitive running.
Jim Ryan set world records for mile (3: 51.3) and 880 yards (1: 44.9) at age 19.
In 1966, he was named the best athlete of the year in the United States. He was especially promoted in the eyes of the public by his fight with the legendary New Zealand middle-aged 3-time Olympic champion Peter Snell during his last big tour of the States.
Here is a video of 19-year-old Ryan’s victory over three-time Olympic champion Peter Snell:
This is well written in Ryan’s autobiography” The Wichita Record Holder “- highly recommended for athletes of all levels to read!
In 1964, at the age of 17, Ryan qualified for the US Olympic team and reached the semifinals of the Olympic Games in Rome. In 1968, Jim won silver in the 1500m at the high-altitude Olympic Games in Mexico City.
But the iconic mile race – one of the most famous in the history of running, Ryan lost it, but it’s worth watching if only for the sake of the weedy atmosphere.
Marty Liquory became the 3rd American student (18 years old) to run 3 years later than Ryan. In 1968, Marty qualified for the Olympic Games in Mexico City and made it to the final, becoming the youngest ever finalist in this most popular athletics sport.
Ryan-Liquor’s numerous duels have become legends of the “Queen of Sports”. The most famous is the 1971 re-match, which was one of the first to receive the name “Dream mile”. In 1969, Liquory won the first mile against Ryan’s previously unbeaten home in the United States Championship. Jim even retired and did not compete for more than a year.
Then Ryan threw down the Liquorie glove and on May 24, 1971, a new meeting of the best miliviks in the world at that time was scheduled. It’s not often in the history of sports that a long-awaited competition that is billed as “historic” and “the best in the world” really does. Nerves burn out, athletes get injured, or everything just goes wrong. And it’s not just easy.
But on May 24, 1971, Ryan and Liquory met all the hopes of millions of fans. Precisely millions – until now, American sports experts put this race on a par with the legendary Super Bowls and NBA finals. The interest was such that the leading news channels made a live “insert” of this race on the air. As one of the TV bosses of the time said: “I can rely on these guys that they will not take more than 4 minutes of my precious time!”
Jim Ryan was one of the sharpest finishers of all time on the mile, and Liquory had to find the answer to the spurt. And Marty found it – a risky long finish. In addition to being a great aesthetic spectacle, this race is also an excellent tutorial on “How to beat the fast finishers!”
It was Jim Ryan who was the idol and motivator of young Sab Coe, who won 2 Olympic golds, a lot of world records, and now the president of World Athletics. And he’s not alone – as we can see, Jim Ryan still inspires more and more generations of runners.
Happy Birthday Jim! Thanks for the motivation!