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Athletics at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games:

Men's High Jump

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Events:
Phases:

Host City: Tokyo, Japan
Venue(s): National Stadium, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Date Started: October 20, 1964
Date Finished: October 21, 1964

Gold: URS Valery Brumel
Silver: USA John Thomas
Bronze: USA John Rambo

Summary

By now, defending silver medalist Valery Brumel was the best jumper in the world, having broken the world record six times between 1961 and 1963. He had dominated the 1962 European Championships, winning with 2.21 (7-3). The next best jumper was American John Thomas, who had been the heavy favorite in 1960, but won a disappointing bronze. Since 1960, Brumel had defeated Thomas at 8 of 9 meets. The Tokyo high jump event was much closer than expected, however, as Brumel did not win easily. In fact, he and Thomas jumped the same height, 2.18 (7-1¾), but Brumel won on the countback. He and Thomas had both needed three attempts at 2.14 (7-0¼), but those had been Brumel’s only misses. Thomas had a total of four misses, the next tie-breaker, needing two attempts at 2.12 (6-11½) and 2.16 (7-1), and had to settle for the silver medal.

Brumel was severely injured in 1965 in a motorcycle accident, sustaining a comminuted open fracture of his right tibia. He underwent several operations, but the tibia would not heal. Finally, it was healed after placement of an unusual external fixation frame, placed by Soviet orthopaedist Gavriil Ilizarov, who had pioneered what became known as the Ilizarov device, variants of which are now standard orthopaedic treatments. But Ilizarov became famous for his treatment of Brumel. After his injury, Brumel received a letter from John Thomas essentially telling him to hang in there, and telling him that he hoped he would return to jump again. In fact, Brumel did compete again, getting back up as high as 2.13 (6-11¾) in 1970, but was never again the world’s dominant jumper. Even today, he is often considered the greatest high jumper ever.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Valery Brumel 22 Soviet Union URS Gold OR
2 John Thomas 23 United States USA Silver OR
3 John Rambo 21 United States USA Bronze
4 Stig Pettersson 29 Sweden SWE
5 Robert' Shavlaq'adze 31 Soviet Union URS
6T Ralf Drecoll 20 Germany GER
6T Kjell-Åke Nilsson 22 Sweden SWE
8 Ed Caruthers 19 United States USA
9 Mahamat Idriss 22 Chad CHA
10 Lawrie Peckham 19 Australia AUS
11 Edward Czernik 24 Poland POL
12 Evgeni Yordanov 24 Bulgaria BUL
13 Tony Sneazwell 22 Australia AUS
14 Valeriy Skvortsov 19 Soviet Union URS
15 Samuel Igun 26 Nigeria NGR
16 Mauro Bogliatto 21 Italy ITA
17 Wolfgang Schillkowski 22 Germany GER
18 Gordon Miller 24 Great Britain GBR
19 Rudi Köppen 21 Germany GER
20 Henri Elendé 22 Congo (Brazzaville) CGO
21 QR Luis María Garriga 19 Spain ESP
22T QR Henrik Hellén 24 Finland FIN
22T QR Robert Sainte-Rose 21 France FRA
24 QR Kuniyoshi Sugioka 22 Japan JPN
25 QR Jón Ólafsson 23 Iceland ISL
26 QR Roberto Abugattas 21 Peru PER
27 QR Kinya Miyazaki 25 Japan JPN
AC QR Kateseperswasdi Bhakdikul 22 Thailand THA