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Athletics at the 1968 Ciudad de México Summer Games:

Men's 10,000 metres

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Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Venue(s): University Olympic Stadium, Ciudad de México
Date Started: October 13, 1968
Date Finished: October 13, 1968
Format: Final only.

Gold: KEN Naftali Temu
Silver: ETH Mamo Wolde
Bronze: TUN Mohamad Gammoudi

Summary

On 14 July 1965, Ron Clarke won the 10,000 metres at the Bislett Games in Oslo in 27:39.4, bettering his own recognized world record by a Beamon-like 36.2 seconds. His best time in 1968 was 15 seconds faster than the second best time for the year. But the 1968 Olympics were held at the altitude of Ciudad de México, and Clarke had been born and trained at sea-level. The pace was slow, because of the altitude, with 5K passed in 15:00.6, slower than the 1924 final. Mexico's Juan Martínez took the lead on the 19th lap, delighting the home crowd. With two laps remaining the lead pack of four was Clarke, Kenya's Naftali Temu, 1966 Commonwealth Games champion, Ethiopia's Mamo Wolde, and Tunisia's Mohamad Gammoudi, silver medalist from 1964. Temu and Wolde pulled ahead on the penultimate lap, dropping Gammoudi and Clarke. Wolde shot into the lead at the bell but Temu fought back and caught Wolde on the final straight to win by four metres. Clarke struggled in the last two laps, a victim of the altitude, finishing sixth. He collapsed at the finish line, and was administering to by an Australian doctor who was seen crying at the condition of this great athlete.

Ron Clarke is likely the greatest distance runner never to have run a major international championship, winning a bronze medal in the 1964 Olympic 10K, and four silver medals at the Commonwealth Games. But his world records set new standards and confirmed his greatness. In 1968, he visited Czech distance legend Emil Zátopek at his home in Praha. When Zátopek took him to the airport, he pressed a gift into Clarke's hands, telling him "You deserve this". On the plane, Clarke opened it and it was the gold medal Zátopek had won for the 1952 10,000 metres. Wallechinsky wrote that Clarke had commented, "I do know no one cherishes any gift more than I do, my only Olympic gold medal and not because of what it is … but because of the man whose spirit it represents."

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal T(H) T(A)
1 Naftali Temu 23 Kenya KEN Gold 29:27.4 29:27.40
2 Mamo Wolde 36 Ethiopia ETH Silver 29:28.0 29:27.75
3 Mohamad Gammoudi 30 Tunisia TUN Bronze 29:34.2
4 Juan Martínez 21 Mexico MEX 29:35.0
5 Nikolay Sviridov 30 Soviet Union URS 29:43.2
6 Ron Clarke 31 Australia AUS 29:44.8
7 Ron Hill 30 Great Britain GBR 29:53.2
8 Wohib Masresha 22 Ethiopia ETH 29:57.0
9 Nedo Farčić 27 Yugoslavia YUG 30:01.2
10 Álvaro Mejía 28 Colombia COL 30:10.6
11 Tracy Smith 23 United States USA 30:14.6
12 Rex Maddaford 21 New Zealand NZL 30:17.2
13 Mike Tagg 21 Great Britain GBR 30:18.0
14 Fikru Deguefu 31 Ethiopia ETH 30:19.4
15 Jürgen Haase 23 East Germany GDR 30:24,2
16 Tom Laris 28 United States USA 30:26.2
18 Leonid Mykytenko 24 Soviet Union URS 30:46.0
19 Manfred Letzerich 26 West Germany FRG 30:48.6
20 Tsugumichi Suzuki 22 Japan JPN 30:52.0
21 János Szerényi 30 Hungary HUN 30:53,6
22 Mustafa Musa 21 Uganda UGA 30:54.2
23 Lajos Mecser 26 Hungary HUN 30:54.8
24 Lutz Philipp 27 West Germany FRG 30:57.0
25 Vyacheslav Alanov 28 Soviet Union URS 31:01.0
26 Dave Ellis 31 Canada CAN 31:06.6
27 Jim Hogan 35 Great Britain GBR 31:18.6
28 Keisuke Sawaki 24 Japan JPN 31:25.2
29 Van Nelson 22 United States USA 31:40.2
30 György Kiss 32 Hungary HUN 32:03.2
31 Rafael Pérez 22 Costa Rica CRC 32:14.6
32 Benjamin Silva-Netto 29 Philippines PHI 32:35.2
AC Kip Keino 28 Kenya KEN DNF
AC Rodolfo Erazo 22 Honduras HON DNF
AC Evan Maguire 26 New Zealand NZL DNF
AC Alifu Massaquoi 31 Sierra Leone SLE DNF
AC Willy Polleunis 20 Belgium BEL DNF
AC Edward Stawiarz 28 Poland POL DNF