OLYMPIAN, written by Dr Basil Ince, was published in 2011. The book examines, in detail, the history of Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic participation. Included in OLYMPIAN are profiles of the country’s eight individual Olympic medallists, between 1948 and 2008. Between July 17 and August 9, excerpts from those eight profiles are being featured in the pages of the Trinidad Express. The profiles, in their entirety, are being published on the Express website (http://www.trinidadexpress.com/olympics).
Today, the series concludes with the spotlight on sprinter Hasely Crawford, the country’s first Olympic champion. Crawford struck gold in the 100 metres dash at the 1976 Montreal Games.
The literature on Hasely Crawford, compared with that of the other individuals in this book, is voluminous. In his 1987 book Hasely: The Trinidad Flyer, Linley admits that “books about Herb McKenley and Don Quarrie of Jamaica, and Alberto Juantorena and Teofilo Stevenson of Cuba, were influential in having this one written.” In a country contemptuous of its history and its heroes, this volume fills an important void in the field of athletics. Neil Duncanson’s The Fastest Men on Earth (1988) includes a chapter on Hasely along with the other 100m Olympic champions, and Michael Anthony includes a chapter on Hasely in his First in Trinidad (1985).
Wayne Brown conducted a lengthy and insightful interview in the Express of November 9, 1986. Brown wrote, “All else being equal, field for field, he is quite simply the greatest Trinidadian” in sport. The enormity of Crawford’s achievement will impact on Trinbagonians as the years continue to accumulate without a golden reward from the games at the highest international level. In the 60 years that the country has competed in the Olympics, only one gold medal has been won, and without meaning to devalue any other track event or any other discipline at the Olympics, the gold medal was achieved in what is generally regarded as the blue ribbon event.
Although there are occasions when Hasely wonders whether it was all worth it, the bald fact is that he was happy to achieve his goal of becoming “the fastest man in the world.” While rage may have driven him to his stupendous achievement, it was joy that brought tears to his eyes when he was on the winner’s rostrum on July 24, 1976. The actual running of the race came relatively easy to him, and he was aware that winning it would place him among the country’s mythical Pantheon of heroes. Proud and determined, he left no stone unturned in his quest for the gold after his injury in 1972. While he targeted the gold for 1976, he knew that there were long-term implications. “Winning the gold medal gave me world recognition,” Hasely frankly admits. He had been aiming dead centre at recognition for a number of years. Indicative of this quest was the need for respect. After winning the 100m in Montreal, the young American, Wayne Evans, accosted him in the dining room prior to the 200m and declared, “I will kick your arse tomorrow.” Psychological ploy or not, the remark upset Hasely who felt that “Evans should respect me.”
Hasely’s attempt at post-self construct began on September 1, 1972, about four strides after the start of the 100m final in Munich. His thigh, though iced and strapped, could not withstand the power generated by his 6’ 2 3/4’’ frame and a body weight of over 190 lbs. He pulled up, helpless, frustrated and exasperated, watching Borzov and company thunder down to the finish line. Although he eventually crossed the finish line long after the seventh competitor, he was listed as an ‘also ran.’ What state of affairs led to this misfortune in 1972 and set Crawford en route to the gold in 1976?
When he left Trinidad for the United States in December, 1970, he flew into the residual effects of the turbulent sixties. The civil rights movement had become radicalised by African-Americans like Malcolm X, Rap Brown and, ironically, Trinidad born Kwame Toure (formerly Stokely Carmichael) who had coined the ominous sounding slogan, ‘Black Power’. Black power meant many things to African-Americans, one of which was black pride. According to Carmichael, “We have to stop being ashamed of being black. A broad nose, a thick lip and nappy hair is us, and we are going to call that beautiful whether they like it or not. We are not going to fry our hair anymore but they can start wearing their hair natural to look like us.” Much of the backlash of the civil rights movement found fertile territory in Hasely’s garden. The locale of the territory happened to be Ypsilanti, Michigan, but it could have been Anywhere, USA.
Hasely explained to Wayne Brown what it was like to live in Michigan: “Very difficult…it wasn’t nice. Where the home was situated that the coach put us to live… they had a lot of hillbillies around there. And there were a lot of problems. ‘Hey you, nigger.’ Very hostile, very nasty. I think what saved me was, is not like Trinidad; in America sports is a big thing, and when my name eventually became known I got away from it (the hostility). But, like, in classes people used to ask me, “Where’s your grass skirt? How do you like wearing clothes? And that built a kind of rage in me…I am not racial. But I built a kind of a hate in me…and I think…that is the reason why I got hurt in the 1972 Olympics.”
That situation must have continued for some time because Hasely’s name did not become known until April 1972 when he became healthy. Before his departure from Trinidad he had been involved in a car accident which damaged his back and pinched his sciatic nerve. Believing that he would be healed quickly when he went to the United States, he held his tongue. When he left for the States his right leg was “almost completely numb.” “It would take me about 20 minutes to put on a pair of socks,” he recalled, grimacing. “I could not sneeze. I could not laugh loud. I could not even speak loud. That injury hampered me for about one and a half years.” Since he had problems training, his results, to be charitable, were sub-par. In fact, he almost lost his scholarship and the coach threatened to send him back to Trinidad.
After his problem was properly diagnosed and successfully treated, he began to train and compete in earnest in April 1972. His problems had also precluded any competition during the indoor season. Between April and the end of May when the school year ended, Hasely ran times of 9.5, 9.6 and 9.4 for the 100 yards, and 10.3 and 10.2 for the 100m. Track and Field News (December 1974) succinctly summarises his first two years at Eastern Michigan. “Hasely Crawford had his problems while at Eastern Michigan. Injured when he got there in January 1971, he was unable to run until the Spring of 1972. Starting slowly, he did little early, still made the Munich final but didn’t finish after cramping in the semi.”
So when all is said and done, Hasely advanced to an Olympic final after running for five months, the period when he enjoyed good health. From mid-July until he entered Munich for the Games, Hasely campaigned in Europe. During this period he ran 10.2 on three occasions, 10.3 twice, 10.4 once and 10.6 on two occasions. In addition, he ran a couple of relays. Only twice was he beaten in Europe and in that campaign he defeated everyone he met save Miller and Borzov whom he had not met. Among those whom he vanquished was Eddie Hart, the top American sprinter for Munich. The other American hope, Robert Taylor, had the better of him in a 100m in Oslo. In fact, Hasely was beaten into fourth place.
Everywhere he went in Europe he heard about Borzov, but could never meet him. The press played up this ‘white hope’ but Hasely had problems getting a line in the press. Talk of this white hope and the racial animosity he had encountered in Michigan made him determined to defeat Borzov whenever they met.
Finally they met in the quarter-final in Munich after Hasely had breezed through his first round. Hasely did not have a good start and Borzov won in what turned out to be the fastest 100m of the Games, 10.07 seconds. Hasely finished a close third behind Taylor. The stage was now set for the semi-final with Borzov drawn in Hasely’s section. Hasely was going to show the great white hope a thing or two. “He got out of the blocks before me… and at about the 80m mark I caught him. I looked across and rather than just going through the tape and qualifying I put on an extra effort,” Hasely now laments ruefully. Instead of easing through and qualifying, Hasely put on an extra kick for the finish: “I felt a movement in my left thigh, left or right thigh. I ran the last 10 metres on momentum. The time was 10.36. Borzov had won in 10.21 seconds.” The 1972 Olympics had virtually come to an end for Hasely.
Crawford placed the blame for his injury on his “inexperience in terms of Olympic running at that point” and his desire to defeat Borzov. Both reasons are correct because they are closely related. He had allowed his emotions to get the better of him. A boxer is generally warned by his handlers to maintain his cool in the ring and not become annoyed by the tactics of his opponent. Becoming annoyed may lead to fighting solely with brawn and no brain, thus opening up oneself to a knockout. This is precisely what happened to Hasely. He had opened himself up and was knocked out.
The difference here was that Borzov had done nothing to annoy him. Hasely was the victim of his own pent-up rage. There was general confusion in the room with well-wishers milling around the prone Crawford. The issue was whether or not to give him an injection of chlorozone to enable him to compete in the final. He sought coach Ray Davis’ advice. But none was forthcoming because Davis was sobbing. The American medical team with three doctors and the Jamaican physio were standing by with needles awaiting the decision. Hasely eventually decided against the injection. When we talked about this later, he explained: “I am not a doctor but I felt that in those days if you took an injection for an injury you may not feel the pain, but it does not cure the problem and I felt that if I do go and run in that state, I may win a gold medal but I may not walk for life. I was young and I had another chance and I could come back again, and I took the decision not to take the shot.”
The dynamics of the situation were fascinating. Two Jamaicans were in the final along with Hasely, but Herb McKenley felt that neither of them could have beaten Borzov. Lennox Miller, who had already won a silver medal at the Mexican Olympics in 1968, would have had a chance but he had been injured and was running on chlorozone. Herb, seeing that Jamaica’s chances were dim, turned to Hasely to bring home the bacon for the West Indies. A West Indian had to win. Herb’s thoughts were guided by part nationalism, and part wish-fulfillment. The West Indian federation had failed but Herb would always go to the aid of a West Indian athlete. He wished a West Indian to be victorious since none had ever won the Olympic 100m. He himself had lost by a mere whisker to Lindy Remigino in that famous finish in 1952 in Helsinki. McDonald Bailey, another West Indian, had ended third in his second effort, after finishing sixth in the London final in 1948. This was a good opportunity for a West Indian to win. Herb would have to wait four years for that when two West Indians were the main protagonists in the 100m final in Montreal.
Self-interest too demanded the chlorozone shot. The American doctors were prepared to assist in giving the shot because they did not want Borzov to win. The Cold War was yet in full swing and it was unthinkable, according to Cold War logic, to have a Russian beat the Americans in the blue ribbon event. The Americans had only one finalist, Robert Taylor. At Helsinki in 1952 when there was no American lifter in the featherweight division, the Americans had assisted Wilkes in an effort to prevent a Russian victory. American assistance to Wilkes, born of self-interest, failed in Helsinki. It was not given an opportunity to swing into action 20 years later in Munich. The headline that they had wished to withhold by a Russian victory, appeared in the New York Times, and it was framed in a Cold War context, “The Fastest Human is a Commie.” The rest is history. Of the 1972 final Hasely relates: “I did warm-up. I could run at a certain pace without feeling any kind of injury. But when I went into the final, I started well. I was in front with the pack, but when I went into the drive I could not make it and just pulled up.” The rage from this failure exploded four years later in Montreal.
Would Hasely have won in 1972? He had never beaten Borzov in their two meetings in Munich. In their first clash Borzov ran the fastest 100m of the Games, 10.07 seconds. Robert Taylor, the American ran 10.16 and Hasely 10.18. Hasely did not start well. Borzov won easing up. In the ill-fated semi-final, Hasely had a better start than Borzov but the Russian passed him. Hasely caught the Russian at 80m and “was going by him” when he put on the extra pressure and strained his muscle. When Hasely started slowly, Borzov beat him handily. When Hasely started faster, the Russian passed him. Even if Hasely drew alongside at 80m, the fact is that the race was a very competitive one. In addition, Taylor had defeated Hasely in Europe in the quick time of 10.1 approximately a month before Taylor defeated him again in Munich, though much closer this time. It should be noted that Borzov beat Taylor comfortably in the final. The fact is that Hasely had never beaten Borzov or Taylor, and even with a completely fit Hasely, the final could have been very close. In fact, Hasely himself is not sure he would have won. In response to a question Hasely, referring to the 1972 final, said parenthetically, “If I did not have an injury, I would have won, or I would have won a medal.” The view in this corner is that Hasely would have been hard pressed to beat Borzov who was as sharp in 1972 as Hasely was in 1976. And no one could have beaten Hasely in 1976.
The results of the 1972 final are published in cold black and white. As is the nature of statistics, they seldom indicate much of what is the reality. The statistics do not reveal that Hasely Crawford strained his muscle in the semi-final. Nor do they reveal what would have been a major tragedy for an athlete who had missed his event. Believe it or not, this happened to two American athletes, Eddie Hart and Rey Robinson, both of whom had done 9.9 seconds in the US trials. Hart, Robinson and Taylor, the American contingent, had all advanced to the second round without any problem. The second round of the 100m was to start at 4:15 pm but the American coach, Stan Wright, had an outdated schedule which had the event starting at 7 pm. While Robinson was in the Games Village, he happened to look at one of the monitors in the ABC-TV offices. The monitor showed athletes lining up for a 100m. Robinson questioned whether it was a re-run of earlier proceedings and when told ‘no,’ everything clicked. It was his race that was about to start. A mad ride in an ABC-TV car failed to get Robinson and Hart there for their races. Only Taylor made his heat in the nick of time.
Robinson and Hart were out of the Olympics after both qualifying in their first heats. Their years of hard work had gone down the drain. Robinson, in any case, had muscle problems but Hart himself in an interview, speculated on what might have happened: “I was in the best shape of my life, with a 9.9 in the trials, and I felt very good. I really felt invincible and I was still on that plateau coming into the Olympics. At the very least I would have given Borzov a real test, but I don’t think I would have lost.” Words like these just heighten the speculation with respect to who might have won, had Borzov not. But enough of speculation. And on to 1976 which cannot be fully understood without information on the preceding years, especially 1975.
In 1972-74, Hasely was beginning to achieve some stature in the track world. After virtually hobbling around Eastern Michigan’s campus for a year and a half, he came alive in the outdoor season just prior to the 1972 Olympics. With health on his side, he became an Olympic finalist with one outdoor season as background. Nineteen seventy three was a good year for him. He had a good indoor season, winning four 60 yard dashes indoors. The biggest of them was the AAU race, which is the climactic race of the season for dash men. The best sprinters in the world were in that race at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Among them were Steve Williams, Ivory Crockett, the world record holder and Valeri Borzov. Hasely had no way of knowing that he would have had the opportunity of clashing with Borzov that quickly after his disappointment in Munich. In fact this race turned out to be the happiest moment of his track career and not the winning of the Olympic gold medal in 1976, as most would have surmised.
On his return to Michigan after the 1972 Games, colleagues had been telling him that he could not beat Borzov. During the indoor season after the games, Crawford clashed with Borzov over 60 yards and vanquished him. This win provided Hasely with a measure of revenge for 1972. Hasely was surprised at the manner in which he achieved his victory. “I had a very bad start,” he stated in upbeat fashion. “I ran in lane 4 and I put three steps on them, and that’s the reason why that was the greatest moment of my career.” It is fascinating to witness how a big man like Hasely, 6’ 2¾” and over a 190 lbs, could unfurl that huge body of his over so short a distance. A 50 or 60 yard dash is over before one can say ‘Hasely Crawford’. It has never ceased to amaze me that at his height and bodyweight he could generate such speed in so short a time. Beating the best in the world in a 60 yard dash after “a very bad start”! Less than two months later he ran at Pointe-a-Pierre and won the 100m in 10.2 seconds. That was the start of the outdoor season when he beat Don Quarrie, Steve Williams, Gerald Tinker, Ivory Crockett and Robert Taylor, who had secured second at the 1972 Olympics. It was a veritable who’s who of world sprinters. All these wins, save one, were achieved against these sprinters in the United States and Europe. One race took place in Jamaica where he recorded 10.1 seconds in defeating Steve Williams and Don Quarrie before the latter’s home crowd. For the entire 1973 outdoor season he lost one race, the AAU final held at Bakersfield, California. This was when he pulled up again at 80m with muscle problems. On the basis of his 1973 performances, he was ranked second in the world among 100m men by Track and Field News.
The 1974 season was not a successful one for Hasely because of a bone spur on his foot. This limited his appearances in competition, including the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand and the CAC Games in Santo Domingo. It did not matter anyhow since the country was not represented at either of these Games. It was not until April that the bone spur was removed and Hasely began to run more frequently. He competed in Trinidad but returned to Michigan to prepare for his pre-Olympic year. Thus a good year was followed by a mediocre one. Track and Field News summed up his 1974 season: “He had hamstring problems and a bone spur was discovered on his foot, so after the indoor season, it was decided he should be redshirted. The spur (a huge one) has now been removed and coach Bob Parks hopes for big things in ‘75. ‘He sure is due,’ commented Parks.”
‘Redshirted’ simply means that he was not permitted to represent his university during the outdoor season. Consequently, he was able to represent Eastern Michigan for an additional season. In hindsight, if he had to have physical problems, it was preferable to have them two years before the Olympics rather than the year before Montreal. To have suffered physically the year before the Olympics might have undermined his confidence for the big year. Hasely had a mediocre year in 1974.
The comment of Hasely’s coach, Bob Parks, was prophetic. Nineteen seventy three was a confidence building year and 1975 provided another opportunity to buttress that confidence. As if Hasely ever lacked confidence! He feared no one whenever he was a hundred percent fit. But even a supremely confident person needs to have that confidence bolstered ever so often. The 1975 season did that for Hasely. His indoor season was phenomenal. He lost only two races, over 60 yards, to Houston McTear and Steve Riddick. Every other indoor race he won and in so doing defeated the top world sprinters, among them the same McTear and Williams, Robert Taylor and Cliff Outlin. His crowning achievement during the indoor season was to win both the NCAA and AAU championships over 60 yards, thus becoming the first sprinter in history to win this double in the same year. Hasely also did something remarkable for Hasely. During that indoor season he competed at 300 yards, 400 yards, and 500 yards. What he did was improve his strength by running distances beyond his usual races. He followed up his indoor season with a solid outdoor season beating several US stars in the process. He ran 9.4 seconds for the 100 yards with unfailing regularity. In May, he came to Arima and ran two memorable races with Steve Williams.
I had been following his activities in the States via Track and Field News and was keen to see his performances against Steve Williams who was definitely the best US sprinter, and among his main competition for the gold in the following year. Both sprinters were in top form, Hasely from a good season in the US, and Steve, fresh from Jamaica with the fantastic times of 10 flat and 19.9 seconds for the 100m and the 200m respectively. Both these times were threatening the world records, especially the latter. Williams won both races, the 100m and the 200m in the windy times of 9.8 and 20.2 seconds. But Hasely, second in both, had identical times.
I had no idea how he was preparing himself for Montreal but after those two races, he emerged as a serious contender for the 100m title. What really impressed me was the superb 200m that he ran. I had never seen him over that distance before but was completely captivated by his performance. I hadn’t the vaguest notion either that I would accompany him to Montreal for the Games. Wilton Jackson, a former national athlete, who had represented Trinidad and Tobago and the West Indies at the major Games, the Commonwealth Games in 1958, the Pan American Games in 1959 and the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, was Hasely’s coach. In addition to having international competitive experience, Jackson had also served as manager/coach for the track and field team for the Mexican Olympics in 1968, manager of Pan American Games team that participated in Venezuela in 1983 and as President of the NAAA for two years. A graduate of Morgan State College, he was arguably the most knowledgeable coach in the country.
Wilton was convinced that the serious threats to Hasely for the gold in Montreal were Steve Williams and Silvio Leonard, the Cuban flash. When he saw Williams at Arima, Jackson settled on him as the most serious opponent for Hasely in Montreal. Describing the Crawford-Williams 100m duel at Arima as a “classic,” Wilton looked forward to the 200m on the following night. Hasely’s run in the 200m that impressed me had evidently made a serious impact on Jackson also. Describing the 200m in his quiet, matter of fact manner, Jackson relates: “Williams had the jump on Hasely and coming around the turn he was definitely 3 or 4 yards ahead of Hasely at that stage. I just turned my head and as I looked back, Hasely definitely put about 3 yards on him. I mean I have been looking at track and field for a long time and I’ve seen some of the best sprint events from the sixties right up to that time and I couldn’t remember seeing somebody not only close the gap but open up a gap over so short a distance. I was convinced that Hasely was satisfied with what he had done.”
Travelling together to South Trinidad after the meet, Jackson told Hasely, “You must be satisfied by now that you are the fastest man in the world” and proceeded to advise Hasely on running at least six competitive 200’s before Montreal. Jackson wanted to ensure that Hasely had over distance training not only in workouts but also competitively. He emphasised this by repeating the instruction in his first letter to Hasely.
Hasely returned to Trinidad after running two races in the States, in one of which he was disqualified. The plan called for him to start his preparation for Montreal at home. He was to take an almost complete rest to the end of December. The decision was made not to run at the Pan American Games in Mexico. However, the Olympic Association was experiencing difficulty raising funds to send a team to the Games. If Hasely was not a member of the team, it would make it even more difficult to obtain financial support. The Association pressured Hasely and he eventually consented to go. His decision was not conveyed to Jackson because Hasely knew it ran contrary to their preparation for the Olympic Games. In addition, Jackson would have advised him not to go. Hasely, for his part, was reluctant to have countervailing pressure coming from Jackson. The result was that he left Trinidad without telling Jackson a word. Basically, there was sound reason why Jackson’s plan called for taking it easy until December. Hasely had come off a solid year of running and the plan called for him to end his season in July. This meant that there would be a full year before the games began.
Jackson knew his protégé and did not want to bring him along too fast. He reasoned that Hasely “was not the hardest working person” and if he began to get into shape too early he was likely to take it easy for too long a period. Or as Jackson put it: “If Hasely had maintained a trim figure and some semblance of fitness he might have wasted a lot of time in the early part of the season and not approached the season with the kind of seriousness and purposefulness he should.” The idea was for Hasely to be out of shape up to December and when he started to work he would work hard, thereby ensuring a serious approach towards the rest of the season. Jackson put it this way: “I was setting him up…so that he could have a lot of work to do and certainly he couldn’t cut off in the middle of the season. He would have had to continue and everything was working to plan until the Pan Am Games thing came up.”
The Pan Am Games were not on Hasely’s schedule, but pressured into service, he responded. He was some 10 pounds overweight, out of shape and blacked out at his first training session in Mexico. The newspapers at home had a field day regarding his poor shape. Hasely’s work was cut out for him. He was intentionally out of shape according to his plan and he was to face one of the best sprinters in the world, Silvio Leonard. Leonard, on the other hand, was in top shape and had just returned from a month’s tour of Europe. That Leonard passed a hastily prepared and out-of-shape Hasely at 90m was testimony to Hasely’s natural sprinting ability. That Hasely thrust his right hand in the air at the finish although Leonard had clearly won the race, indicated one thing, that he could not be shamed by the best men with inadequate preparation. It augured well for when he got into shape.
The Pan American Games went past mid-October so Hasely was well ahead of his intended training schedule. Additionally, his plan called for an indoor and outdoor season that would not entail competing in very difficult races too early. In fact he was criticised in the US for this, and Steve Williams, who was running too fast too early, accused him of ‘ducking’ him. But Hasely was a man with a mission and competed sparingly. The record indicates that during the indoor season he was beaten by Houston McTear (twice), Steve Riddick, Cliff Outlin and Steve Williams. As the indoor season ended, he flew down to Trinidad in April and was beaten by Charlie Joseph over 200m. Charlie clocked 20.7 seconds and Hasely 21 flat.
Throughout the month of May he competed in the States and Europe, and, not only was he being beaten frequently, but his times were also uninspiring. In the six races that he lost in a row, his losing times were 10.7, 10.78, 10.37, 10.78, 21.44 and 10.58. Surely pedestrian times. In those races he was not placing second always but at times fourth and fifth. Surely his plan called for him to take it easy but this was too much. Here it was at the end of May and he certainly was not rounding into any sort of shape that would make him a medal contender. Anyhow just before he came to Trinidad for the Senior Championships, he ran two quick times (10.3 and 10.1) in Turin, Italy.
On his return to Trinidad, Hasely came under the immediate tutelage of Jackson. To put it mildly, Jackson was concerned: “I wasn’t satisfied with his work out. In fact with his first work out in Arima he virtually blacked out and vomited…I was very upset that after doing 200’s in workout he should be in that state just before an Olympic Games.” Jackson had planned to start his workouts with him at a certain level but Hasely’s form seemed to be nowhere near that level. Jackson concluded: “Obviously he was not ready.” After the workout Jackson asked him a series of searching questions on the way home. The responses were revealing and provided firm prescriptions for the immediate future. Jackson had noted that Hasely’s starting was bad. In fact “it was one of his biggest problems over the years. His starts were very very bad,” Jackson emphasised. Jackson recalled the 100m at Arima around mid-June when the race was so close that many spectators believed that Ainsley Armstrong had won. Whether Armstrong had won or not, was not Jackson’s concern. His concern was what he had observed during the race. First of all, he observed that Hasely’s start was bad. Immediately that put him “way out of contention.” Moreover, “he was running all over the track. It was only in the last 20 metres that he came through.”
Time was of essence. The Trinidad and Tobago team for the Olympics was leaving within ten days for the pre-Olympic tour in Europe. This hiatus permitted Jackson “to spend a considerable amount of time on his starts.” Jackson had already been convinced that conditioning was not Hasely’s problem. Neither was speed. He knew that Hasely had basic speed. What was putting Hasely into a lot of trouble was “the distance he gives away at the start of the race.” Jackson’s prescription, once the problem had been diagnosed, was starting practice: “We virtually spent about fifty per cent of the workouts on his starts, and in fact, the last night we worked out, we left Skinner Park about 9 o’clock working on starts.” Jackson is convinced that that prescription cured the problem. “From the time he left Trinidad…and hit Europe it was a completely different story.”
Appropriate weight should be given to Jackson’s analysis of the situation (Hasely’s poor starts) and to his prescription for the condition. But it should be noted that just before Hasely ran in Arima on June 12th, he had run the two quick 100m (10.3, 10.1) at Turin ten days before. The conclusion here is that Hasely had begun to pick up. His vomiting and black-out can be explained by the fact that he was not doing 200m repeats and the over distance that Jackson had instructed him to do. It is significant that there was no recurrence of that condition after that first evening. The author’s experience is that most 100m and 200m men do not relish doing repeat 200’s or repeats of distances above 300’s. I recall Mike Agostini relating his experience with 200 or 300 repeats. He was working out with someone in the States doing repeat 300’s and after the third or fourth one he blurted out: “Oh sh.t I can’t see you. My head is spinning.” Jackson’s diagnosis of Hasely was correct. He was underworking.
But why was he underworking? Why was he doing such poor times before coming to Trinidad? Why was he starting so poorly? The answers to these questions are to be found off the track rather on the track. Hasely had already graduated from Eastern Michigan University in April 1975 with a B.S. degree in non-teaching industrial education and planned to work on a master’s degree in materials engineering. That meant his scholarship days at university were over. Consequently, he had to find work to maintain himself. This he did at Nash Engineering in Detroit, starting in the summer of 1975. His job, which entailed designing gears for drag racing cars, started at 6 am and ended at 4 pm.
This pattern continued during the fall and winter months when the evenings became considerably darker. While training was not very difficult during the summer, it became more difficult as the days grew shorter, with nighttime descending earlier. Very often he trained alone, at night, after work at the University of Michigan Indoor Track. At times Kent Bernard, who lived in Ann Arbor, the site of the University of Michigan, assisted him. It was becoming impossible to maintain such a schedule and attend school to pursue a master’s degree in materials engineering.
When Crawford was in Trinidad to compete in April 1976, he had tried to obtain financial assistance for what was becoming a virtually impossible situation. He explained: “I came back to Trinidad and requested assistance. I did not know the proper ropes that I should go through. I did speak to some of the NAAA people and I made a request to the Government.” There was no response, but the blaring headline from one of the weekly newspapers screamed: HAUL YOUR ARSE CRAWFORD. GO BACK TO AMERICA AND LET THEM SUPPORT YOU.
Hasely took the advice. He returned to the US, met Mike Larrabee, who had defeated Wendell Mottley in the 400m in Tokyo in 1964, and who was then an Adidas representative. Larrabee gave Hasely $5,000 (US) which allowed him to take a leave of absence from his job. Only a track man like Larrabee could empathise with Hasely’s plight. His next words are a sad commentary on, and a powerful indictment of all those concerned in Trinidad and Tobago: “What happened there assisted me in winning the gold medal. I can recall the last thing I thought before I went to my block. I had tried to gain financial assistance from Trinidad. They refused me. I decided to show them at that point that I would do well.” A negative reinforcement by Trinidad and Tobago catapulted Hasely Crawford to its first gold medal. This was the basis of Hasely’s rejection of induction into the WITCO Hall of Fame thirteen years later.
The difficulty of working and training was not his only problem. There was also a domestic problem which weighed on him. He had married a year before and by April 1976, the marriage had gone on the rocks. After the workout, when he vomited and left his coach nonplussed, he admitted to Jackson that he had some family problems and that he really had not worked out properly. With the trauma of a failed marriage slowly fading into the background and the $5,000 in cash from Mike Larrabee via Adidas, Hasely’s pick up of form was miraculous. His poor showing earlier in the season was more psychological than physiological.
In 1976 this writer was elected president of the NAAA, and was selected to accompany the track team to Montreal as manager. My interest in track had never wavered and I had followed the progress of all the athletes on the team, but paid closer attention to their performances as the Games drew nearer. I collected as much information as I could on Hasely from those who had been close to him over the years. Wilton Jackson and Ray Davis, who both competed during my athletic years, were most helpful. I had the opportunity to utilise such information, both during the pre-Olympic tour and the Olympics. One piece of advice was to ensure that Hasely competed in as many 200m as possible. In late May and early June, Hasely had done such widely disparate times as 10.5 in London and 10.1 in Turin. On investigation I discovered that the 10.5 in London had been done on a very cold day in which Hasely appeared to be glued to his blocks. Whatever question marks remained in my head were dispelled in the pre-Olympic tour to Europe.
Hasely ran three 100m’s and three 200m’s. I knew he could run the 200m because I had seen him compete with Steve Williams the year before. The times of his races were as follows: 21.0, 20.2, 21.8 for the 200’s and 10.4, 10.2 and 10.5 for the 100’s. I deliberately had him run the 200’s consecutively and then the 100’s. Only once did he double-up, that is run both 200m and the 100m on the same day. I had been advised by his coach, Wilton, that he was disinclined to compete in 200’s and that he should do them for his overdistance work. I was convinced that the 100m final in Montreal was going to be a close finish and that the overdistance would help him in such a finish. Never did it enter my wildest imagination that he would be a serious contender for the 200 gold.
Whenever competition was coming up, he would ask: “What am I running today, Doc?” I would answer “200” softly, in an attempt to mollify what was apparently painful to him. When I told him ‘200’ the second time, he questioned rhetorically “Again, Doc?” On the third occasion he called to the deity for assistance: “Oh God, not again!” Here is Hasely’s recollection of the 200’s: “When I went on the Pre-Olympic Tour in 1976, Jackson insisted that I run a number of 200’s. I did not like it. We were running on some very hard tracks, I can recall, and I resented that and I rebelled in many ways.”
If he did rebel, the only time I could discern any semblance of rebellion was when he ran 21.8 and 11.4 seconds at Moelv. Perhaps the track at Moelv was hard and he took it easy. But it is interesting to note what he confided in me years later: “When I arrived in Montreal, I came thinking that I was going to win the 200.” Two reasons support this sentiment. Running 200’s competitively three times in ten days in Europe had bolstered his confidence. Additionally, his confidence had every reason to be bolstered. He had run 20.2 in the easiest fashion, virtually jogging the last 20 metres. After that run I too believed that he would be the 200m winner in Montreal.
What about the 100m? He had been running decent times in Europe without being challenged so he did know exactly what to expect. A warm-up meet in Montreal helped. On a cold and damp evening Hasely elected to run the 100m. The American sprinters stayed away through fear of risking injury. In fact, the American coaches and athletes were downright critical of him for running in such hostile weather. Since he had competed sparingly in the States that season, they believed that he was short of work and was taking every opportunity to round into form. When the race was completed and the coaches had timed him in 10 flat, they knew that their charges would have to do plenty of running to beat Hasely. This run bolstered Hasely’s confidence for the 100m. His confidence, however, was given an extra boost at his last training session. Jackson had him do practice starts and when he had completed eight, Jackson terminated the workout saying: “Forget it. You ready. You going to win.” Jackson had made those prophetic remarks because as Hasely said: “I was really flying out the blocks.” What better frame of mind could an athlete want two days before the start of his event, coming to the Games Village believing he could win the 200m and then running 10 flat and being told by his coach that he was going to win the 100m?
In the first round, Hasely won in 10.42 seconds. Hasely’s description: “I walk through the rounds. I actually walk because I had that kind of confidence, because I knew I was in shape.” In the second round, Hasely won in 10.29 seconds beating Borzov 10.39. Hasely’s description: “The second round I met Borzov. I actually played with him.” Hasely had already begun to psych himself up for his semi-final. He relates: “We had a Trinidadian, Ainsley Armstrong, in the first semi-final and I could recall he had a false start, and when they finally went he was behind. So he looked left, he looked right, and when he finally drove into the tape I felt sorry for him. I thought I’d make it up for him.”
After completing the quarter-final, Hasely returned to the village for dinner. That was the end of day one. Hasely’s actions are indicative of the actions of one semifinalist for the 100m event. He relates: “I just washed up. By half past six I was all dressed up in spite of the fact that I was to run 3:30 the following evening. Tension growing. I think about 7:30 I went across by Quarrie…he had a big sign on the door, ‘Do not disturb.’ I still knocked on his door but he refused to answer and then I walked away and read the Bible. A lot of things go through your mind. You wonder if you trained hard. If everything is ok with you. That you won’t get injured. And the last thing I remember was the coach giving me a Bible…He came around 10:30 pm and gave me and told me to read it, and I read about two to three chapters, and my mind began to wander…I think I had changed about four pairs of shoes that night. I was nervous and I got up about 4:30 that morning and I had breakfast. I had lunch at 10 am and we left the village around 12:00. The race was about 3:15 pm.”
In the third round, Hasely won in 10.22 beating Don Quarrie’s 10.26. Hasely’s description: “That was a stacked semi-final. We had Riddick, Quarrie, Johnny Jones and Petrov. I can recall I came out the block about 3rd. I could recall seeing Riddick. He was in the third position and he was looking left and right and realising that he was going to qualify; at that point he looked to his right and then Petrov came and just moved by. He cried like a baby after.”
What follows is my account of events between the end of Hasely’s semi-final and the final. After winning his semi-final, Hasely wished to be taken to the mobile unit situated on the warm-up track, which was about 10 minutes walking distance from the stadium. This was fine because no matter how recently an athlete has run, he should still warm up before competing in another race. Once Hasely got his massage and rested in the mobile unit, he could step from the unit directly onto the warm-up track. When he went to the mobile unit with P.G. Wilson, the team’s physiotherapist, it was time for me to disappear. My own experience is that an athlete is bored and irritated by constant advice by well-wishers when the crucial moment is near. He needs these last moments to relax, clear his own mind and to psyche himself up for the big effort. The semi-final had taken place at 3:30 pm and the final would be run at 4:55 pm. In short, there was a bit less than an hour and a half between the semi-final and the final.
The time before the final was spent in this fashion: Twenty minutes walking to and from the control Centre for the athletes; and another 20 minutes in the Control Centre, including going on to the field. Athletes had to be in the Control Centre 20 minutes before the start of the event. Thus of the 85 minutes between semi-final, 45 was left for resting, massaging and warming up. This is quite a tall order in so short a space of time and this is why the Olympic athlete must be superbly conditioned.
The green light on the warm-up track started to blink indicating that athletes should begin their ten-minute trek to the Control Centre. Hasely and I started to leave for the Centre but Hasely wishing to keep his warmth, broke into a jog. I broke into a jog and fast walk with him and left behind P.G., whose hands were weighed down by the tools of his trade.
As we interspersed our jogging with quick walking Hasely said, “I feel sore all over. Is that normal?” “Yes,” I replied, attempting to reassure him. “If your body does not hurt you, you won’t be human. You’ve already run three quick 100 metres with world class competition. There has been a lot of pounding. You’re not a machine. You’ll feel even sorer before these Games are over.”
Silence prevailed as we continued our walk and jog. All the years of training had climaxed in a ten-minute walk from the warm-up track to the stadium. As we walked through a lengthy corridor before descending on the level of the Control Centre, Hasely complained, “I feel weak.” “That’s normal too,” I reassured him, “you feel as though you can’t drive out of the blocks or run ten yards. I know how you feel. It’s a good sign. You’re ready.”
Nausea, weakness, and vomiting are all indicators of the tension that appear just before the big event. At the same time the athlete is psyching himself up. His adrenaline is flowing. Some great athletes have been known to vomit relentlessly just before the race. Among them are the great US 400 metre hurdler Glenn Davis, and the Ugandan hurdler, John Akii-Bua. It is a danger sign… for their competitors. As Hasely and I began to descend a flight of stairs to enter the stadium, he suddenly held both rails and bent over in agony. He blurted out: “Tell me something, tell me something quickly.” I hit him a sharp blow in the back vigorously and more soothingly as time went on. I said to him, “Everything’s going to be all right…you’re in top shape, nobody’s going to beat you,” while continuing to rub his back.
All this I took in stride simply because I had been prepared for such an eventuality. Ray Davis had told me of a sort of temporary blindness that Hasely had experienced at the Pan-Am Games. I did not know whether Hasely was experiencing temporary blindness or vertigo. It was unimportant. What I did know was that the tension was getting to him and he was now totally psyched up. When we reached on the flat again and continued our walking and jogging, he looked at me and smiled: “You’re afraid. You’re more afraid than I am. Don’t worry. I’m going to beat them all.” Hasely read the tension on my face as fear. But at no time was I afraid; however, I was ever mindful of the significance of going into an Olympic 100m final. Concern yes, fear no. Concern because I knew that all the years of training would come to a head in a little more than ten seconds on the track. Hasely had the ability to win but everything had to click. Fate had deprived him of a medal in 1972. Would it intervene again?
When we reached the level of the Control Centre, Hasely went ahead and left me behind. He was doing some last vigorous warm-ups before reaching the Control Centre. He did some short rapid bursts on the concrete surface. After that activity he began lifting his knees high and as rapidly as possible (knee lifts). In another instance he was moving his hands, waist high, backward and forward as quickly as possible in running motion.
I had known since Europe that Crawford would win, but after he recovered from his accumulated bout of tension and had told me: “Don’t worry. I’m going to beat them all,” my confidence knew no bounds. When we finally reached the Control Centre, I handed him his bag with his equipment and gave him last minute instructions. He shook his head in acquiescence and made his way into the Control Centre. Hasely describes what transpired after I left him: “There were two attendants in the room to check your shoes. Two at the door and one inside to check your spikes and make sure your numbers are on properly. I was the last one to come into the room. I started singing. It was a calypso. Quarrie said, ‘Don’t worry with him he is crazy.’ And then I said to him, ‘if you think I am crazy wait till we go out there, we go see who is crazy.’ But Borzov kept circling me not saying anything with a kind of sneaky look on his face. I was carrying on at a rate, I was cussing, I was scared, I was nervous, but at the same time I was working off my nervousness. Then I saw the two Americans and I went to them and blurted out: ‘You two lose.’ The only person I couldn’t move was Borzov. He just kept one way. Then they walked us out. It’s amazing when you go out there. You don’t see anybody. You are scared before you enter the arena. You kind of timid but once you hit that arena you feel nothing. You turn beast. You are a different person. You are not yourself.”
Hasely may have “turned beast” but he was very much in control of himself. He knew what he had to do. He had to follow Jackson’s instructions, namely, run a full 60m flat out before the race started. Jackson explains: “I didn’t want him to leave anything to chance, of not warming up and being not ready for the first few yards of the race. You just don’t leave that kind of thing to chance in an Olympic final.” Jackson noted that Hasely carried out his instructions to the hilt.
Hasely explains what went through his mind when the starter says ‘strip.’ “Now between ‘strip’ and ‘get to your marks’ is a couple of seconds. I don’t think people understand what it is to run a 100m, you know. But in that couple of seconds everything came back to you. Your four years, everything. ‘Oh God, ah tell so-and-so ah go beat them. Ah tell Trinidad and Tobago ah go win de race. If ah lose now mih mother go laugh at me.’ Everything. And then the last thing I remember, I will never forget it. I said: ‘I went back to Trinidad and ask for assistance and my own people turn me down. Ah go show them.’ I will never forget that. That’s the last thing I said.” Hasely then describes the race that millions saw on television, thereby giving an insight into what is going on inside a 100m gold medallist’s head during the race.
Even when the starter barked ‘set’ thoughts were still racing through Hasely’s mind. “When I was down there all kinda thing happen to me. When the man say ‘set’ I remember the white hope and Michigan…Between 1 3/4 and 2 seconds I was rocking; he (the starter) waited till I stopped rocking and the gun went off. I was in Lane 1, Lane 2 was Petrov, Lane 3 was Glance, Lane 4 was Borzov, Lane 5 was Quarrie. To me that’s a disadvantage because I’m competitive. I like the middle (lane). I running you. That’s why Jackson said he wished I’d come from behind. But me, I always believe that once I’m in trouble…because I didn’t move Borzov (in the waiting room), so I knew I was in trouble…and once I in trouble I going in front. Me ain’t chancing nutten! Once I have some fear for you, you have to come and get me! I ent giving you no yard; I taking a yard. You come and get me.”
So the gun went off. “I come out nice, but the first man out, I think was Glance. Borzov came out second! And the first thing come to me. I say, ‘Jesus Christ, not that blasted white man again.’ And I pick myself up and start to run. I ran so hard that at 50 (metres) I couldn’t see nobody. At 80 metres I was saying to myself—and this is no joke, it might sound strange— ‘You mean is so easy to win an Olympic gold medal?’ That is what I was saying going down the road. And I think unintentionally I cut my stride. That was when Quarrie came alongside. Quarrie was coming like a shot. The time was 10.06. If I’d had help I would have broken the world record that day because I could have gone faster.”
When Hasely saw Quarrie coming, he explains what happened. “When I started to see this yellow jersey (Quarrie) coming, I said ‘Oh sh.t.’ And if you look at the tape slowly you will see my stride cut. I broke my stride. I think it’s because of my strength I didn’t stumble or fall. But I did break my stride, to go again.”
Thoughts and actions from after the quarter-final to the actual running of the race are gems for a sports psychologist. Permit one comment outside of this time frame, that is, Hasely’s compassion for and affinity to his defeated teammate, Ainsley Armstrong. He saw him trying vainly to make it. The reaction was to avenge his compatriot’s loss. Two human emotions, compassion and revenge, got Hasely’s adrenalin flowing. Hasely’s mental state after the quarter-final is nothing short of amazing. This state led to all sorts of seemingly irrational actions brought on by nervousness: Dressing at 6:30 pm for a race at 3:30 pm the following day; his inability to sleep causing him to have breakfast at 4:30 am; the constant fidgeting, trying on four pairs of shoes and walking to Quarrie’s room, and his distracted efforts to read the Bible, the nagging self-doubts, did he do everything right? These actions would not only make good notes for a psychologist but also good material for a documentary. Certainly all the semi-finalists would respond differently to the same set of circumstances. Note Quarrie’s behaviour. A locked door with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. Perhaps he was sleeping, perhaps he was reading the Bible or perhaps he was reading a mystery like Alan Wells, the 1980 Olympic champ, who read 40 Years of Murder hours before his final.
The drama continues in the Control Room in his seemingly irrational behavior in an effort to psyche himself up and to instill fear in his rivals, at the same time working off his own nervous energy. One is not certain about the extent of transformation in personality behaviour from the Control Room, where he is behaving ‘irrationally’ and when he ‘turns beast’ once he enters the arena. But one can be certain there is a transformation because the environment has changed. Between the ‘strip’ and ‘get to your marks’ instructions, another torrent of thoughts rushes through his mind, not too dissimilar from those of a drowning man whose entire life flashes before him in a few seconds. In Hasely’s case, however, it is the last years of his track life; his mother, his beasts, the rejection of his plea for assistance by the Government. But even at the ‘set’ when nothing else should have been on his mind but the coming report of the pistol, the final thought was devoted to the ‘Great White Hope,’ Borzov. It makes sense. Borzov had beaten him four years before and Hasely was unable to distract him in the Control Room. And then the pistol.
Hasely’s commentary on the race reveals not only his speed but his tremendous pick-up. After seeing Glance and Borzov ahead of him for the first three strides he picked himself up “and started to run.” Those were the moments in the race when he moved into top gear. Between the first three strides and the 50m point, he had run so powerfully, that he was ahead of everyone at the latter point. At that point the race was virtually over. At 80m he was musing to himself, “is so easy to win an Olympic gold medal?” His ability to generate power is phenomenal. It had been on display not only in the Olympic final but at Arima when he clashed with Steve Williams in 1975. At one moment, Hasely was three or four yards behind Williams, and in the batting of an eyelid, he had opened a gap of three yards on Williams. This incredible ability was on display again in 1973 when he beat Borzov and company over 60m. “I had a bad start… I ran and put 3 steps on them.” In a sense this is not too dissimilar to what he did in Montreal; started behind and in the lead by 50m. Bear in mind that on each occasion he was not competing against slouches but against two of the greatest sprinters in the world. When an athlete is in top form, as Hasely was in ‘76, one does not run only fast but also effortlessly. Hasely’s comment “You mean is so easy to win an Olympic gold medal” is virtually identical to Borzov’s comment in 1972, “I cannot believe the Olympic gold medal can be won so easily.” The only difference is that the thought crossed Hasely’s mind at 80m, while Borzov’s did so straight after crossing the line. Quarrie’s closing the gap on Hasely in the last few strides has been explained by Hasely: “I am a competitive athlete. You have to challenge me or else I would slow down, not intentionally, but ease off. Quarrie came at the end and I broke my rhythm so I had to pick it up again. He was coming so hard I had to pick it up again and in doing so I broke my stride and I stumbled slightly but enough to get over the line.”
The American media focused on their own as usual. Hasely’s name was never mentioned in the race until just before he hit the tape. They focused on the American finalists who were hopelessly outclassed. Hasely had won every race leading to the final and had progressively whittled down his time: 10.42, 10.29, and 10.22; he had also run the fastest time going into the final, 10.22; and had defeated the leading contenders, Borzov and Quarrie, in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively. What more did they want as proof ? Perhaps if they had seen the final from Jackson’s vantage point their commentary might have been similar to Jackson’s: “the race was off to a good start, and at the end of the first 10m as far as I was concerned he was leading; and not only leading but in fact he appeared to be comfortable because at that stage he looked to his right and then just did whatever he had to do for the next 50m. After that it was just a question of running through it. I thought it was the easiest 100m final I had ever seen for a very long time.”
For me, the difficult race was over. The easier race, the 200m was next on the list. I saw history in the making for Hasely and for Trinidad and Tobago. He would join the elite band of sprinters who had won both sprints: He would also write himself indelibly into the history books as one of the great sprinters of all time. Not only would he be covered in glory but also Trinidad and Tobago. As far as I was concerned, we were now playing for history. On what basis was I so sanguine? Firstly I knew Hasely could run a 200m. I had seen that classic race between him and Steve Williams in Arima the year before. But a year can make a difference, so I had to have more recent evidence to substantiate my viewpoint. The evidence was there for those who knew. He had had three competitive 200’s on the pre-Olympic tour and one of them was a beauty to behold. He had clocked 20.2 seconds virtually jogging in the last 50 metres. He says he eased up the last 20 metres. On the basis of that performance I was certain, as certain as one could be, that he was the gold medal winner in the 200m.
Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, similar thoughts went through his head. Up to that time, he had run the second fastest 300 (30 seconds) in the world. “When I ran 20.2 in Finland, I believed my chances of winning a gold medal in the 200m were much better than in the 100m.” In fact in the Wayne Brown interview, he revealed “when I went to the Olympics, I went there to win the 200m, not the 100m.” That certainly was his intent. During the pre-Olympic tour in Europe he had consulted with his colleague, Charlie Joseph, on how to run a curve. Charlie, an excellent curve runner, instructed him when taking the curve to drop his left hand, focus his eye on the lane and bring the right hand around his body in line with his eyes. He practised several curves, and the 20.2 was the outcome of this instruction.
Lo and behold, I got the shock of my life when he told me that he did not want to run the 200m. To put it mildly, I was simply flabbergasted. I could not believe my ears. He complained of being tired and sore. My response was, “So what do you expect? You’ve been running quick 100s for the past couple of days.” I tried to convince him that the 200m should be easier than the 100m. He knew that too but he was intent on not running. Finally I persuaded: “Let’s make this easy. Jog through the early rounds. Don’t put anything out in them. Just qualify. Only in the final you will really run. It’s really one race.”
Why did he not want to compete? He pleaded that there was too much pressure on him. They expected him to win. The ‘they’ was certainly not the pundits but the Trinidad and Tobago camp since they knew of his fabulous run in Europe. He did not wish to be subjected to “that kind of tension again.” In any case, as far as he was concerned, “I’d already won the 100.” I have no doubt that the reasons he advanced were truthful. But I believed the real ‘tension’ involved four rounds of 200’s. He did not relish doing 200 repeats. I had suspected that all along. This is why I had proposed his taking it easy during the preliminary rounds. This is why he had balked at running three competitive 200’s in Europe. I had been forewarned of this and it had been my task to get him to take the medicine. In our interview years later he admitted: “If I had to do it again…I would spend more time running the quarter-mile and do a little more strengthening because, now this might be wishful thinking, I think I was a better 200m runner, than a 100m runner.” I have no doubt that with his explosive speed, doing the proper work (repeat 200’s and some 400’s), he would have been a devastating 200m runner.
Reluctantly he decided to run. As discussed, he ran just fast enough to qualify in his first heat (22.35 seconds). In the quarter-final, he followed the same procedure but won in 20.95 jogging up the straight. Up to this point he was a reluctant suitor but after the first two rounds his attitude towards the race changed. An important reason, no doubt, was that two rounds were already behind him. Additionally, two competitors, Dwayne Evans (US) and Colin Bradford ( Jamaica) tried to out psyche him. Evans accosted him in the dining room while Hasely was eating a steak: “You non-English speaking Trinidadian, I will kick your arse tomorrow.” Hasely took the bait, hook line and sinker, and became riled up. He thought a young boy like that (17 years old) should have respect for a gold medallist and threatened. “I will kill you tomorrow.” In another incident, Colin Bradford poured ketchup on his steak and when Hasely went for another, he moved Hasely’s chair. Hasely uttered a similar threat to him. As one who always tried to out psyche his competitors, it is surprising how Hasely allowed these ploys to get to him. But who cared? He was now in a mood to approach the remaining 200’s seriously. I was unaware of what had transpired but I detected Hasely’s change of attitude towards the race. Something else had transpired, unknown to me, which indicated after the first two rounds that Hasely meant business. I was elated. We were on the same wavelength again. Hasely employed the same strategy in the semi-final, taking it as easily as possible and just qualifying in third place in the time of 20.99 seconds.
He was now prepared to run one final 200m and he would explode for the first time. We went through the same procedure as we did for the 100m. Jogging to the Control Centre, he paused to say: “Don’t worry, Doc, Ah go beat them.” Those were words I’d been waiting to hear but I suppressed my joy and asked, “How will you beat Quarrie?” knowing that Quarrie was the only serious threat in the race. He paused and went into a most lucid explanation of his modus operandi. Paraphrased, it went like this: “If I can hold Quarrie to a one yard lead coming off the curve, I could beat him down the straight. You see he runs a fantastic curve…he’s an excellent curve runner, so I have to be right there with him or be within striking distance to beat him going down the straight.” I egged him on: “How can you beat him down the straight? He’s a strong finisher.” Without skipping a beat he explained: “No Doc, he is not a strong finisher. He fades in the last 10 to 20 yards. The only reason he wins is because he’s so far in front coming off the curve that no one is able to catch him even though he is fading.” The truth is that I had never seen Quarrie run a final. When I was in Munich in 1972 Quarrie had retired with a pulled muscle in the 200 semi-final won by Borzov in 20.74. Confident that the race was in the bag, I wished him good luck and ran to secure a vantage point from where I could see Hasely Joaquim Crawford, a.k.a. The Kid, Raj Paul, win his second gold medal and join the historic ranks of non-US double winners, Percy Williams (Canada, 1928) and Valery Borzov (Soviet Union, 1972). Of course he’d be also joining the ranks of the great Jesse Owens, Bobby Morrow and Carl Lewis, all double winners.
The lanes of the major contenders were Quarrie 2, Hampton (US, 4), Crawford 5, Evans (US, 7) and Bradford (8). The track was damp but Hasely was in a good lane. In his lane the curve would not be as sharp as lanes 1 or 2, and he would not be saddled with running too much curve. In any case, his buddy Charlie Joseph had shown him how to negotiate the curve. At the gun, Hasely exploded and in two steps was up on the backs of Evans and Bradford. As he put it: “I just rafted those guys and went by them. I was really cooking…” and then disaster struck. The Times (London) carried this report: “Hasely Crawford of Trinidad…suffered a muscle cramp on the top of the curve which sent him leaping high in agony.” No reports are available on Hasely’s position when he stopped running but there is no doubt he was going well. Quarrie ran exactly as Hasely had predicted. In the last 20m the two young Americans progressively closed the gap on Quarrie but the Jamaican’s gold was safe. A worthy winner, Don Quarrie has been one of the world’s finest 200m runners ever. His record is impeccable. He has been a holder of the world record over 200m (19.86); 4th on the all-time list (up to 1985) among 200m men. Only the giants Pietro Mennea, Tommie Smith and Carl Lewis come before him (Michael Johnson and Usain Bolt later established their greatness). DQ, as he is often called, has won four individual golds at two Commonwealth Games, two from the Pan American Games, and five AAU outdoor sprint titles. In short he is one of the greats and he deserved to win in Montreal to cap such a distinguished career.
The loss of that 200m pulled Hasely down a bit from the stature he would have achieved among great sprinters. In fact, to some extent it devalued his victory in the 100m among many Trinbagonians. In Montreal, while walking in the Olympic compound after the 200m, I overheard a group of my fellow nationals stating that Hasely had won the 100m by fluke. I have also heard this in Trinidad. Whatever virtues we may have as a people, it is not one of our national characteristics to praise our fellow man (woman). We are bent headlong on tearing down or cutting down to size anyone who has achieved anything. This flaw in our national character, the crab-in-the-barrel syndrome, is one grounded in insecurity and a lack of respect for our own. It is part and parcel of the colonial legacy to appreciate and value others and to depreciate and devalue our own.
We started this piece at the pinnacle of Hasely’s career, his participation in his first two Olympic meets in 1972 and 1976. In three outings he had reached three finals in the Games at the highest level. How did he get there? Sheer speed is but part of the answer since sprinters are born and not made. Hasely was born in San Fernando on 16 August 1950, the seventh of eleven children of Lionel and Phyllis Crawford née Holder. His running pedigree seems to have come from both his parents since his father, a former Rabies Inspector with the Ministry of Agriculture, played football, while his mother ran track as a girl. We have noted in this volume that playing soccer is a virtual pre-requisite for running track. Hasely, like others in this volume, seemed to be always running, from a young age in road races around the block with his brothers and pals, Athelston Ifill and Carlie Henry. It was not until he left private school and the Seventh Day Adventist School that track became a serious activity in his life.
At the age of ten, while at San Fernando Boys Government School, Robbie Dash asked his mother to allow Hasely to join Brooklyn Sports Club. So at a relatively early age Hasely was exposed to formal coaching in the person of Zeno Constance, the coach at the Club and a former national athlete himself. Constance was a hard taskmaster and instilled discipline in the obedient youth. The tall skinny lad did not have an easy time with the competition of people like Trevor James, Larry Springer, the Swanston brothers, Keith Clifford and Jim Clark, all recognisable names in the country’s athletics at one time or another. And that is precisely why Hasely often found himself in fourth or fifth spot in competition. These were the days he attended the Anjuman Sunnat-ul-Jamaat Association (ASJA) college but they were to end when his father died suddenly in 1965 leaving the family in financial straits. These circumstances ended Hasely’s days at ASJA and the beginning of an enforced stay at home, before being successful in the entrance exams for San Fernando Technical Institute. At this institution he went into the Machine Shop crafts and passed his exams with flying colours over the years.
The years at Tech gave no indication of where his sport prowess lay. Like most schoolboys at home he dabbled in cricket and football, but went one step further and played rugby. He competed in track whenever his health permitted, for he always seemed to have nagging injuries. Injuries of one sort or another were to dog him throughout his career. His performances on track were mediocre and the results of several meets saw him in the ‘also ran’ column. Carl Archer was the ‘hot shot’ of the Junior group at that time and when he made the national Olympic team in 1968, it certainly was an incentive to Hasely. He blurted out to his colleagues, “The next team going to the Olympics, I’ll be on it.” His colleagues laughed with good reason for they were familiar with his ‘also ran’ record.
With San Fernando Tech now behind him and the world of work before him, he went to Swan Hunter in Port-of-Spain and then Texaco at Pointe-a-Pierre. Hasely joined Texaco Sports Club and was introduced to Wilton Jackson by his friend Archer who, like Hasely, was an apprentice at Texaco. Jackson remembers well: “I met Hasely in September 1969 and just as we were starting to do our cross country in the cane at Usine St. Madeleine, Archer introduced him to me, and from the time I looked at his size I was in no doubt that this was somebody we should try.” Hasely, probably not encouraged by his past accomplishments on the track or eyeing the work that Jackson was doing in the cane, informed Jackson that he wanted to do the high jump. If it was the work in the cane he was trying to escape, Jackson quickly disabused him of that notion. “It does not matter what event you are doing. At this early season it is general conditioning, strengthening.” Hasely’s heart must have skipped a beat for there was no escape. And this is the story of how Hasely made training in the cane famous. After a few months work in the cane Hasely again approached Jackson about the high jump. Hasely wished to be entered in that event for the upcoming Southern Games. Jackson put him off with some answer because “I was satisfied at that time from what I had seen of him when we were doing repetition work in the cane, that he had the ability to sprint.”
Nineteen-seventy was the year of the CAC Games in Panama and a Keep Fit meet was held at Guaracara Park. By this time the national team had been virtually selected. Hasely beat Archer, then the National Sprint Champion. Several athletes and officials were not there and insisted they had to see to believe. All the top sprinters including Fabien and Simon, came down the following week, this time at Palo Seco and the results were the same. In fact Hasely won both 100m and 200m. Hasely began to panic since a team for Panama had already been selected and he was not on it. The team for Panama was leaving on a Tuesday and Southern Games were to end the Sunday before. Jackson could not wait for a decision on Sunday since it might be too late to make appropriate arrangements for Hasely to travel, should he defeat team members again. As director of Southern Games, Jackson ensured that Hasely was put in the semi-finals (held a week before the finals) with all the sprinters selected. Hasely was victorious, gained selection on the team, and the Hasely Crawford saga was born. Hasely celebrated his selection before leaving by beating Archer and Edwin Roberts, who had returned to Trinidad for the games.
Hasely’s first overseas trip was a disaster. He left the country in top shape and ran out of the money. Not placing was the least of the problems. But Hasely’s times when he left Trinidad, were better than those he had done in Panama. Jackson was keen to know what had transpired. On returning Hasely looked haggard. He had lost 15 lbs. One source blamed a virus infection while the other singled out diarrhea as the cause. Those sources do not conflict. But a third source blamed the training schedule in Panama where the temperature was 102 degrees. Hasely and other competitors were asked to train for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. “That kind of weather took toll on them and they were certainly in no state to compete,” this source revealed. With that negative Panamanian experience behind him, Hasely returned home to prepare for what turned out to be the most important race of his career in his climb to the top of athletic stardom.
When he left to race in Panama he was in good form. On his return he again established himself as the premier local sprinter in the few meets that were held. Black power demonstrations and the imposition of a curfew had caused several of the major meets to be cancelled. In fact the political situation disturbed his training pattern so he was unable to exercise as he usually did. This did not prevent Hasely from performing consistently at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. If any one meet heralded the coming of a new star, those Games in Scotland did. Running in one of the big Games for the first time, Hasely was a model of consistency doing 10.3 seconds on four occasions. Ahead of him were young Don Quarrie and Lennox Miller, both Jamaican stars. Miller had already won a silver medal in the 100m at the Mexican Olympics and was to cop the bronze in Munich when Hasely could run for no more than a couple of strides. Such consistency deserved a scholarship and a Trinbagonian, Eric ‘Scrooge’ Nesbit, then attending Eastern Michigan University, saw the Games on television and made the appropriate arrangements at Eastern Michigan.
This was to be the final and pivotal event which would take him to the top in his running career. The US experience, though arduous at times, would place him in the mecca of sprinting where he would be exposed to top competition on an ongoing basis. The US experience would have him become inured to the ‘big time’ environment. He had shown that he could cope with it at Edinburgh, but the day-in day-out experience would toughen him. In retrospect, two other important events had preceded his departure for the United States. In fact they were stepping stones to the US scholarship. The first was meeting Jackson and for the first time that he had done any conditioning and developmental work on a sustained basis. In addition, once the long cross country running had been completed, he was introduced to repeats in the cane. This was a regimen to which he had never been exposed and one that he did not relish, but once he did it, he discovered its virtue—building stamina and strengthening the muscles.
Hasely went into the cane as an ‘also ran’ competitor and emerged a few months later as the local sprint champion. The transformation was miraculous. It bore a marked similarity to the Clark Kent to Superman metamorphosis. It is lesson number one for all sportsmen, not solely trackmen but also those who compete in field events, cricket, football, boxing, wrestling or any physical activity to be conducted on a seasonal or yearly basis. Everyone does not have to run in the cane but must do that rigorous and regimented conditioning work if s/he wishes to give himself/herself a fair break when the regular season commences. I remember well the conditioning activity of the former middleweight champ of the world, Carl ‘Bobo’ Olson, who ran on the sandy beach in Hawaii with weights attached to his legs.
The second event was the Edinburgh trip. It marked him as a future champion just as it marked Quarrie’s arrival as a future great. The transition involved in travelling from a warm climate to compete in a cold climate must be surmounted. Those travelling from the tropics to the temperate zone are usually shocked to find that summer weather is not like the weather ‘back home’. While there are very hot days, it is not easy at times to differentiate between some summer days and some winter days in places like Edinburgh. His consistent running-10.3 on four occasions-showed he had the temperament to cope with the big occasion and that he had put the Panama experience behind him.
The Hasely Crawford record at international games is outstanding, though not extraordinary. He has a gold and reached two finals in Olympic competition; gained two bronzes and a silver at the Commonwealth Games; earned a silver at the Pan American Games, and a gold at the CAC Games. Impressive, though not generally well known, has been his running in the US. He was a master on the boards and became the first sprinter in history to win the NCAA and AAU titles (over 60 yards) in the same year. He won the AAU indoor title on three occasions and was the first athlete, before the legendary Carl Lewis, to win seven major titles in the USA. No wonder upon graduation from Eastern Michigan his coach, Bob Parks, labelled him “the incomparable Crawford.”
His career was a remarkable one in the light of his many injuries on and off the track. When he was 15 years old he was ‘sword fighting’ with his younger brother who poked him with a stick in the left eye and damaged some tissues. Although it seemed to be cured he would experience blindness in his left eye whenever he became nervous or annoyed. Doctors labelled the eye problem uveitis. It affected him for the first time in Provo, Utah in 1975 at the NCAA Championships and reoccurred two years later in Jalapa, Mexico. At eighteen years he had some physical problems: “Doctors told me I was going through physical changes. I had a lot of problems with injuries. I couldn’t explain it. I’d just get up on a morning and couldn’t walk! Knee problems, ankle problems. I could not run properly.” Whenever the attack came, it usually stayed with him for 4 or 5 days.
The injury that had the most effect on him, however, was the pinched sciatic nerve. This injury resulted from a car accident on the eve of his departure for the United States in 1971. The numbness in his leg put him out of competition for one and a half years and when he eventually tried to compete he did so in pain. He was on the verge of losing his athletic scholarship. One can only speculate on the direction his career would have turned, had he lost his scholarship. A bone spur in his right foot made training infrequent and painful during the 1974 indoor season and accounted for his rare appearances indoors, but with the removal of the spur in April of that year, he was able to run a few races outdoors. The pulled muscle in the ‘72 Olympics and the muscle spasm in ‘76, were, in a sense, a continuation of the long line of injuries suffered by Hasely. In retrospect, it is fortunate for Hasely and Trinidad and Tobago that he was able to get in some good races between injuries.
When Hasely won the 100m on July 24, he became the country’s first gold medallist and, to date, its only gold medal winner in the Olympics. In the attainment of a gold medal for the Anglophone Caribbean, he had been beaten to it by the two great Jamaicans Arthur Wint and George Rhoden who both won their gold in the 400m in 1948 and 1952 respectively. It is significant that it was another Jamaican great, Don Quarrie, who was breathing down Hasely’s back, when they vied to bring home the first 100m gold to the region. Hasely, in a distance which is harsh on ‘old men,’ became the oldest man to win the Olympic 100m when he was just shy of 26 years. He seems to have opened the floodgates for the ‘geriatrics’ because since then Alan Wells (28), Carl Lewis 27 (at Seoul) and Linford Christie (31) have all been turning back their younger counterparts.
Among world sprinters Hasely was definitely an excellent sprinter. His coach at Eastern Michigan, Bob Parks, gives an accurate assessment of Hasely as a sprinter after his victory in Montreal: “He also could have won had the games been held in ‘73 or ‘75. When healthy and fit, he is unbeatable. He runs only to win and goes all out only about 50% of the time. He has the greatest acceleration of anyone (I’ve seen).” Let us put Hasely to the 3D Test for great sprinters, that is those who achieve lasting greatness. The first D is Doubling. Hasely seldom doubled. Bobby Morrow, Carl Lewis, Valery Borzov and Jesse Owens, in addition to being Olympic doublers, also doubled up in major national meets like the NCAA and AAU meets. John Carlos was at the top of the world rankings in the 100m and 200m for 1969 and 1970. Crawford never topped the rankings in the 100m which he ran more often, even in the year he won the gold medal. In that year he achieved his highest ranking when he finished second to Don Quarrie who topped the list.
Durability involves sticking around for more than two or three years and staying at the top of the all time lists as long as possible. This would involve steering clear of injuries. For example, Bobby Morrow not only scored an Olympic double but won 4 NCAA titles in two years, had 3 AAU wins and equalled world marks in 100m and 100 yards. In eight possible world rankings ‘55-58, he was first 5 times, second twice and fourth once. Bobby Morrow was the last sprinter who met these 3D measurements. Ralph Metcalfe, second to Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics, was very high on the list of great sprinters. He had 3 NCAA wins in 100, 3 in 200, between 1932-1940 he scored doubles in the AAU; he had 12 national wins in three years and was AAU champ in 1935 and 1936, five of these being in a row. In addition, he ran three official world-equalling records at 10.3.
Hasely had the ability to match these outstanding records but his major problem was injuries and not doubling. He won only one NCAA Championship (outdoors) in 1975. In addition, although Hasely had an excellent career, spanning from ‘72 to ‘83, for all intents and purposes, he was not a world class runner after 1978. When he was healthy he could match anyone in the world. When he reached the Olympic final in 1972, he was healthy only for that outdoor season; when he was healthy in ‘75 few could touch him; and he caught fire just in time for the 1976 Olympics. He had a remarkable burst of speed between 10 and 40 metres which catapulted him past the fastest in the world. In fact, there are some experts who believe that Hasely may have run the world’s fastest 100 ever (up to 1980).
Bert Nelson, editor of Track and Field News, writing in 1980 has made the point that “the philosophy behind the official approval of sprint records is absurdly primitive. It is highly unlikely, for instance, that the 9.95 World Record run by Jim Hines was the best-ever performance for the 100m.” Nelson makes two points. Firstly, that permitting a record when the trailing wind was up to 2 mph, was an arbitrary decision. “Why should 2.01 be illegal and 2.0 be legal,” he argues. More important was the altitude factor. “The effect of altitude is so significant,” writes Nelson, “that I suggested two years ago that perhaps marks made at high altitude should not be accepted as world records.” Scientists have studied the effect of wind readings and altitude and have concluded that all times are not equal. They have adjusted for wind readings and the wind-equivalent of altitude in terms of time effect, and come up with a ‘real’ or adjusted time. Tables constructed along these lines place Hasely at the top of the list of fastest 100m up to 1980. Incidentally, the type of track is an additional variable that Nelson could take into account. Some were cinder, others all weather tartan, and yet others were like ‘the magic carpet’, made from layers of hardened polyurethane. The table below shows the adjusted times. On the issue of Dominance, the record is clear. He did not dominate his era as any of the greats did. But he could not in the light of his injuries and his doubling record. Without doubt, of course, he was the dominant sprinter in Trinidad and Tobago.
Today Hasely, his running days over, lives quietly at his home in Federation Park. Athletics have been good to him and have taken him all over the world. His last significant trip abroad saw him in the capacity of chef-demission of our national team at Barcelona. He worked at the Ministry of Sport and was in the appropriate position to bring his experience to bear on the improvement of athletics in the twin-island state. Nothing gives him more joy than that. He has since moved on to the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago. Not surprisingly, his activities deal with sports and prospective Olympians. As he is wont to say: “Athletics gave me everything I have.”
TABLE SHOWING ADJUSTED TIMES
ACTUAL TIME COMPETITOR SITE AID ADJUSTED TIME
10.06 H. Crawford Montreal ’76 0.00 10.06
10.07 V. Borzov Munich ’72 0.04 10.11
9.95 J. Hines Mexico City ’86 0.17 10.12