Fact Of The Day
Sep 29, 1998
At the London Olympics, July 31st, 1948, the stage was set for the first post-war 100 metres mens' freestyle final.
The favourites were the two Americans, Yale's Alan Ford, holder of the world record (0:55.4 in the short course), and Wally Ris (22), University of Iowa. Others considered to have a fighting chance were Keith Carter, (U.S.A.), Geza Kadas (Hungary) and France's giant Alex Jany.
At the gun, Ford and fellow-American, Keith Carter, took the lead with Jany in close attendance. At the turn Jany hit the wall a split-second before the two Americans. But Ford's push-off was superior. Ford stayed under longer than Jany, came up at full speed and began to take the lead.
Twenty-five meters from home, Ford was half a body length in front of the field with Ris on his left and Hungary's Kadas, on his right, battling for second place.
Only 10 metres out, Ris began to surge ahead. The crowd went wild. In a dramatic finish Ris passed Kadas, caught Ford, then passed him. Ris slipped his hand on the wall to win by inches, his time a new Olympic record of 57.3 seconds.
Ford clocked 57.8 seconds. Kadas (58.1) was third, just ahead of Carter (58.3) in fourth place. A dejected Jany had the same time as Carter but was given fifth spot by the judges. Jany's disappointed sister, Jeanette (16), also a member of the French team, was led sobbing from the stands.