• World Athletics John Carlos, Tommie Smith and those raised fists in Mexico 1968: "Athletes can not see inequality and continue with their own"
  • Athletics Fantastic record of Kipyegon and victory of Katir in Florence

Athletics, a sport of hundredths and centimeters in the maximum-minimum expression of its records and measurements, is a history of broken barriers, of crossed borders, of boundaries left behind. And no barrier so recognizable, no border so admitted, no boundary so marked as those that the 100 meters break, transpose and erase. The 100 meters. The shortest career and, therefore, the most flashing; the one that fascinates almost equally the amateur and the ignorant, the expert and the layman ...

If there is a frontier par excellence in athletics, it is that of 10 seconds in the 100 meters. And the one who transposed it for the first time has just died. "The First Man" as Neil Armstrong That man's name was Jim Hines. And he did, on October 14, 1968, in Mexico City, during those Olympic Games of "Black Power", the "Fosbury Flop", the "superhuman" records of Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, Bob Beamon, Viktor Saneyev ... And, yes, Jim Hines at the 2,300 meters of altitude of the Mexican capital. The day before, the 13th, he had escaped from the Olympic Village to make love with his wife, "before the race of my life".

Hines, trained at Texas Southern University by Bobby Morrow, the superb white sprinter, triple Olympic champion in Melbourne56, was born in Dumas (Arkansas) on September 10, 1946. He was, therefore, 22 years old. He was the son of a bricklayer from Oakland and, in the Olympic selection trials, held in Sacramento, in June, he had run, on the 20th, in 9.9, manual timing, considered 10.03 electronically. In the final he was beaten by Charlie Greene, a graduate of the University of Nebraska. The pair, along with Melvin Pender, 30, an Army captain, would represent their country at the Games.

On the first Olympic tartan track, electronic timing installed, in the series, Greene and Cuban Hermes Ramírez (eliminated in the semifinals) ran in 10.00. In the final, the first in history with eight black athletes, Hines, in his words, started from the cleats with greater speed than ever. Not as quickly, however, as Pender, whom Hines and Greene caught at 50 meters. At 70, Hines was already the first. He finished in those immortal 9.95. Greene (10.07) suffered a cramp and was overtaken "in extremis" by Jamaica's Lennox Miller (10.04). Pender would be fifth with 10.17. A few days later, on the 20th, the three Americans, together with Ronnie RaySmith, and with Hines in the last post, established (38.24) a new world record of the 4x100 relay.

Hines had already signed, on the 18th, a three-year contract with the Miami Dolphins of "football" (what we call here "American football"), which had chosen him in the corresponding "draft". Only, with a totally marginal role, he fulfilled two and was hired by the Kansas City Chiefs, with whom he did not reach any relevance either.

He did not agree with the protest of the black athletes, whom he accused of having ruined, to no advantage for anyone, the lives of all. "When we came back from Mexico, nobody wanted to know anything about us." His career in athletics was, therefore, as brief as it was glorious. His record, until beaten by Calvin Smith (9.93) at the altitude of the Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, on July 3, 1983, remained at the top of the tables for 14 years, 8 months and 19 days. Not even Usain Bolt's has lasted (yet) that long. Since 1968, "countless" athletes have dropped below 10 seconds. But that is still the golden frontier.

Shortly after returning from Mexico, Hines entered his apartment in Houston to discover that he had been robbed. His television, stereo, wife's jewelry and... the gold medals. He placed an ad in a local newspaper and they were returned to him in the mail in a brown envelope.

Hines led an anonymous existence as a municipal employee. In a way, he was bigger than himself.

  • More sport

According to the criteria of The Trust Project

Learn more