American sprinter Jim Hines died on Saturday at the age of 76. That made Athletic Weekly announced on Sunday. Hines, the son of an Oakland construction worker, was the first sprinter to run the 100 meters under ten seconds. He won the gold medal in the king’s section of athletics at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
The iconic image of the Games in Mexico is that of the fists clenched in solidarity with the civil rights movement of top black American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the 200-meter medal ceremony. But sporting history was also written at the time. Especially by Hines. With his win in the 100 meters he claimed a place in the history books. Only: „The protest is the most remembered event of ’68. I hate it,” Hines said in 1991 during an interview of The Los Angeles Times.
What Hines did was special. Not only did he win the gold by beating Jamaican Lennox Miller and his compatriot Charles Greene, he did so by being the first to dive under the magical ten-second mark. The Olympic Stadium sign initially indicated 9.9 seconds, after which it was eventually adjusted to 9.95 seconds. “If they corrected my time, it’s because no one could believe a man was running that fast.” said Jim Hines in 2016 to the French daily L’Equipe.
Earlier in that year, Hines had already broken through that special boundary once. Only a few months before the Games, during the ‘Night of Speed’ on a concrete track in Sacramento, California, only a manual stopwatch was used. As a result, his performance as an official record did not stand. The time he set in Mexico, 9.95 seconds, remained out of reach of other sprinters for more than fourteen years, until Calvin Smith improved the time slightly to 9.93 in Colorado Springs in 1983. „I am the original World’s Fastest”said Hines in 1991.
Hines himself was therefore not in favor of the protests during the 1968 Olympic Games. He expressed his surprise and disapproval at the protest gesture of his compatriots Tommie Smith and John Carlos. “The best way to make a statement as a black athlete is to put in great performances,” Hines said. Like many other black athletes, he lost several sponsorship deals in the aftermath of the turbulent 1968 Games. Two weeks after the Games in question, he retired from athletics at the age of 22. Although he still pursued a career as an American football player – a short spell with the Miami Dolphins proved unsuccessful – he later disappeared from view.
The world record in the 100 meters is now a lot sharper. Usain Bolt completed the shortest sprint distance in 2009 in 9.58 seconds – a time no one has come close to since.
#Jim #Hines #man #magical #tensecond #mark