By Stan Greenberg
Last updated 2011-03-03
This is a photograph of the finish of the Olympic 100m final in 1948. From the left are: Emmanuel McDonald Bailey (GBR-6th); Mel Patton (USA-5th); Alastair McCorquodale GBR-4th); Lloyd La Beach (PAN-3rd); Barney Ewell (USA-2nd); and Harrison Dillard (USA-1st). Note that there was no automatic timing in use at Wembley, merely photo-finish equipment which was normally used for horse-racing, and was only used to aid the judges to decide placings.
Although automatic systems were used in 1932 and 1936, and then from 1952 to 1968, these timings were not acknowledged as official until the 1972 Games in Munich. Statisticians who obtained the ‘unofficial’ times were horrified at the sometimes excessive difference between them and the ‘official’ manual timings.
Incidentally, Dillard was, without question, the top high hurdler in the world, but after winning over 80 consecutive races, failed to make the American team in that event. By placing third in the US Trials 100m he gave himself another Olympic chance. Four years later he put things right by taking the 110m hurdles title at Helsinki.
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