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Original Issue


Theirs is the will to win which ultimately dominates. They may or may not play for money, medals or records. Victory is the supreme goal, and its dedicated quest sets them apart from Everyman. Last week, Everyman could recognize a little of this in President Eisenhower's exuberant snap decision to play an extra nine holes—just to beat George E. Allen. More clearly, he could see it in the attitudes of supermen who claim success as a right: Dale Long, setting a major league record with seven homers in as many straight games; Mickey Mantle, going five for five and hitting No. 17; Althea Gibson, breaking a jinx to win her seventh consecutive tournament in France; and certainly in almost every thought and action of a young man from New Jersey named David William Sime.

Mel Patton runs no more, but track lovers still listen with something akin to awe whenever he talks about those explosively short races in which he once ran faster than man had ever gone before, set two world records and won an Olympic championship.

Thus great interest, as well as respect, greeted Patton's prediction a few days ago that his 9.3-second world record for 100 yards (which he set in 1948 and which has since been equaled but never bettered) would not last long. He went further: someone would gain the sprinter's Holy Grail. "I definitely think," he said, "that the nine-second 100 will come about pretty soon."

Patton even painted a word portrait of this Lancelot in short pants: "He'll have to be six feet tall or better and weigh around 185 pounds; a long-legged fellow who likes to run and is willing to work." It was an interesting picture, but not necessarily one which would qualify Mel Patton as a prophet; he could just as easily have added that the young man in question would be red-haired, wear size 11 shoes, play the trumpet and have an affinity for pizza pie. For the truth is that Mel Patton had peeked. He had seen Dave Sime run.

David William Sime (who because of an old Scottish ancestor pronounces his name to rhyme with dim instead of dime) has only to look in a mirror to find himself gazing upon an almost exact replica of Patton's picture (see cut). He also has long legs and a great love of running. And probably no sprinter in history—not even Patton himself—ever possessed such a fierce desire to achieve perfection through hard work.

As for the magic goal of nine seconds—and other predictions that he will soon become the first runner to go under 20 seconds for the 220—Dave Sime remains supremely aloof. The 19-year-old from Duke University and Fair Lawn, N.J., is less interested in the impersonal numbers on a stop watch than in the personal satisfaction of beating anybody in the world at any distance from 0 to 220 yards and in winning an Olympic gold medal. In fact, he wants to win two. If this can be accomplished with times which are something less than earth-shaking, fine; if not—well, Dave Sime can break records, too.

It is because of the records he has already broken that Sime can afford to be a bit undemonstrative now over the prospect of lowering still others. In 15 days this spring down in North Carolina, he twice equaled and twice eclipsed recognized world records in three events. At Durham on May 5 this big handsome kid with the baby face and the beautiful stride ran the 220-yard low hurdles in 22.2 seconds, which is better than Harrison Dillard or Fred Wolcott or any of the other great hurdlers of history could do in their long and distinguished careers—and Dave Sime, basically, is not a hurdler. At Durham on May 11 he ran the 220-yard dash in 20.1, better than any time ever recorded opposite the names of Mel Patton or Jesse Owens or Ralph Metcalfe or anybody else. And at Raleigh on May 19 he tied both the 100-yard mark of 9.3 and the old world record of 20.2 for the 220. Yet Dave Sime did not grow up to be a sprinter. He did not grow up to be a track man at all.

He was born in Paterson, N.J. on July 25, 1936, and when David was 3 the Sime family moved down the road three miles to Fair Lawn. By the time he was 6 he was hitting baseballs in the vacant lot next door and tossing basketballs through a net hanging from the garage, ice skating, kicking footballs and discovering for himself the great truth reserved for all healthy little boys since time began: it is much more fun to run than it is to walk. So David ran.

"Encourage him to compete in sports?" chuckles Charles J. Sime, who is now a night guard at the Wright Aeronautical plant in Ridgewood, N.J. but was once a semipro baseball and basketball player. "Why, I made him compete." But Dave's mother gently admonishes Mr. Sime with a "Now, Chuck," and tells you that David didn't need any pushing. All he ever thought about was sports.

By the time Dave Sime was in junior high he was playing sandlot baseball with grown men. He won a Silver Skates speed skating championship at Madison Square Garden when he was 14. As a junior in high school he hit over .500; as a senior he hit in 25 consecutive games and was named center fielder on the all-state baseball team. He also played left halfback in football, frequently punted over 60 yards and once scored three touchdowns in five minutes; at season's end he made all-state and honorable mention on a high school All-America. In basketball ("I really wasn't very good, I just rebounded pretty well"), Sime averaged 15 points a game. Then came graduation—and the college and professional scouts.

He received 22 scholarship offers in football (most tempting offer: one from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point) and had bonus contracts dangled before his eyes by a horde of major league baseball scouts. But there was a growing desire in Dave to become a doctor and a blossoming plan that the only way he could make it was to go to college, play baseball and upon graduation sign a big league contract. Then, as Sime remembered the story of Bobby Brown of the New York Yankees, he could finance his own medical school education. So Dave turned to the college baseball scholarship offered by Duke.

In all this time, Dave Sime, record-wrecker to be, had run only once in a high school track meet. Near the end of his senior year Dave slipped off from baseball and, competing unattached, ran in a 100-yard dash. Without knowing anything about a proper start, Sime ran a 9.6 in his qualifying heat—only the timers didn't believe their watches and decided it must have been about 9.8. In the finals he lost by inches.

Twice that summer in New Jersey AAU meets, Sime ran again. Once he won and once he lost and Dave Sime took two more lessons to heart: sprinting was fun but not quite so much fun when you finished second.

Bob Chambers, the leathery-brown Duke track coach, will never forget the day he first saw Dave Sime. He laughingly tells how on the very first day on the campus for the Class of '58 this tall redhead with the long legs and shy grin walked up, introduced himself and asked if he might take part in the fall track program.

"He said, 'I'm here on a baseball scholarship and I've never played track before, but I can run the 100 in 9.8.' "

"I guess," says Sime, "that he thought I was crazy."

"We worked him on starts," says Red Lewis, Chambers' tall, courtly assistant track coach, "because it was apparent he didn't know the first principles of getting under way. But by the time he was out 20 yards or so he was really beginning to move, and it would take a blind man not to see it. And work? He thrived on it. So after a few weeks we put the clock on him."

In sweat clothes, Dave Sime ran the 100 in 9.7.

"By that time," Lewis adds, "we knew we had something, a boy with tremendous physical abilities. We didn't know how good he was, but we knew he was good."

It didn't take them long to find out. They wangled an invitation for Sime to run in the Washington Evening Star Games, and sent their nervous freshman out to match strides with Rod Richard, who two months later was to win the Pan-American Games 100 and 200 meters, and Art Bragg, a former NCAA and AAU champion from Morgan State. Sime got off to a late start but closed fast to finish third.

Dave has a red-haired temperament, and Chambers recalls Sime fuming: " 'Doc, I was just barely gaining on those guys.' Barely gaining on Richard and Bragg and he was mad as a wet hen. What a boy. All I told him was 'Dave, you just don't give sprinters like that a couple of yards at the start and then catch them,' and let it go at that. He got the idea."

So back to work he went, driving himself viciously, working for hours on his start and on his running form with the two coaches and Joel Shankle, Duke's fine senior hurdler and broad jumper. And Dave still vividly remembers those first efforts to become a great sprinter.

"The coaches would tell me to relax and Joel would tell me to relax. For a while that's all I heard. I always thought that in the 100 you simply dug out of there as fast as you could and kept right on digging. I found out there was more to it than that. Joel would tell me to just sit back like I was in a rocking chair and run, relaxed, relaxed, relaxed. I finally got the idea."

The result is the smooth, apparently effortless stride Dave has today. He runs with his torso almost straight up and down, far more erect than most top dash men, and reaches far out ahead with his long legs to pull the ground toward him. And he runs relaxed—so easy, it seems, that almost no one believes how fast he is really moving until they have seen him float away from a field of struggling pursuers. That spring he once ran 9.6 and was never over 9.7 outdoors, despite devoting most of his time to baseball.

Sime burst into national prominence the next winter on his second trip to Washington. This time, running against Richard and Olympic 200-meter Champion Andy Stanfield, the big sophomore swept the entire Evening Star sprint series. He won the 70, won the 80, and then won the 100 in a new world indoor record time of 9.5 seconds.

After that, the indoor meet directors couldn't get out invitations fast enough. Dave, traveling to New York with Shankle, ran four times in Madison Square Garden at 60 yards. He beat such sprinters as Johnny Haines of Pennsylvania and George Sydnor of Villanova—and he also lost to Haines and Sydnor. When he was off to a good start there was no catching him; when his start was faulty, sometimes he could get there first and sometimes not. Two yards, he discovered anew, was a lot to give away at 60 yards against lighter and quicker and smaller men built for that distance.

"We were more than pleased," says Lewis, "for we didn't expect that he would win them all."

"Just wait," said Shankle one night after Sime had lost a close one, "until he can stretch his legs outdoors."

What happened once he moved outdoors was that Sime was never over 9.6 and he ran 9.4 six times before shaving off that final tenth of a second to equal the record. He broke the 220 and the hurdle record. He beat the famed young Texas sprinter, Bobby Morrow, by a yard on a rain-soaked track at the Drake Relays (SI, May 7). And now he must be considered the No. 1 candidate to sweep the 100 and 200 meters in the National Collegiate and AAU meets in California in June, the Olympic Trials at Los Angeles June 29-30—and lead the way to Melbourne.


All agree that Dave Sime is a marvelous young physiological specimen with superbly functioning muscles and sinews and bones. Even more fascinating to mere mortals is the trail of determination and denial required to produce such a superman in spikes. For underneath, like anyone else, Dave Sime is a complex human being.

In part, he is a normal, healthy college student who sometimes fails to study as hard as he should; a boy who dates and dances and admits to a mild mania for bop music, who likes to play a slightly discordant trumpet in the sanctity of his dormitory room or hit a bucket of golf balls at the driving range. He eats a lot and sleeps a lot and wanders around the Duke campus dressed in a sweater and slacks and loafers. He grins back happily at the hundreds who stop to chat or yell "Hi, Dave," in a way they did not do a year ago. And he is still amazed—and somewhat embarrassed—by his sudden fame. But he is also equipped with vast ambitions, a strange streak of stubbornness and a mind which can be startling in its depth.

Understanding Dave Sime means understanding his race and how he met and conquered its problems. The 100 may lack the wonderful tactics of the mile, but it is definitely not "just digging." It is a brief explosion of power under delicate, split-second control and there is no margin for error, there is no fourth lap or final turn in which to correct an earlier mistake. In Sime's own words, "You blink once and six guys go by you."

Dave has been handicapped by his size at the point where every race must begin. "He has wonderful reflexes and is very quick for a big man," says Red Lewis, "but the reach and power so valuable to him in the last 40 yards of a race remain a definite handicap in the first 40." So Sime still works hardest on his start. Some of those who saw him run indoors still think that his start is poor, but actually it is not only no longer weak, it is very good indeed. "He has never been a slow starter," Lewis points out, "only—on occasion—a late starter. Those occasions are now rare."

The second part of the 100 is the acceleration period, which begins out about 15 yards from the blocks. "This, we think," says Chambers, "is the strongest part of Dave's race. At first we had to get him to come up smoothly from his low starting position into his normal running position without too abrupt a change and a resultant loss in balance. At the same time he had to learn to complete a transfer from the hard, driving mechanics of the start to the relaxed stride which is his natural way of running.

"It wasn't easy," the coach adds, "but now he does it better than anyone I've ever seen. His acceleration—right there—is what wins races."

Learning the remainder was less of a physical problem than a mental one. Sime was a natural sprinter with great speed; he only needed to learn how to use it. So Chambers and Lewis and Shankle kept harping on relaxation and balanced running until Dave discovered that what they said was so.

"I found out," he says, "that like a lot of runners I had more power than I could use; you let it get out of control and you wobble all over the track and tie up and run a poor race. And you get beat. So I worked on running with everything under control; I just tried to stay nice and loose and at the same time run as hard as I could. It sounds difficult, but it is really simple once you find it out for yourself. Actually it was the hardest lesson I had to learn—and once I learned, the easiest to do."

But even more than the ability to accept coaching, Sime had something else; a belief that despite everything he was born with and anything others could do to help him he must do the greatest part all by himself. And because of this, early in his freshman year, he began to experiment.

He read every book he could get on sprinting. He talked to other runners and coaches. He tried running up the high concrete steps of Duke Stadium and, upon awakening the next day with sore, complaining muscles, decided that this was not only not bad but very good. If those muscles were sore, he hadn't been using them enough and this was the way to develop them. So he ran up the stadium steps some more. He put weights on his feet and, lying on his back, bicycled furiously, always concentrating on keeping his feet and legs revolving in that perfect plane which, to Dave, meant the perfect running stride.

He also lifted weights to build up the muscles in his back and shoulders, chest and arms. "All running is not in the legs," he explains. "The arms supply lift and drive and give you balance. They have to be strong, too." And frequently, after the coaches ran him away from the field in fear that overwork might make him stale, he went to his room and, strapping the weights on his feet, leaned over against his bed in the angle of a sprint start and jerked his legs upward, striving to develop even more the muscles needed to propel him away quickly from the blocks.

"We finally took the weights away from him," Red Lewis grins, "but we couldn't move the furniture out of his room. Now he goes up there and, for exercise, lifts one end of his bed."

Dave had no intention of ignoring authority, but he had to do what he felt was right. "Once," he said, "when they told me to take the afternoon off, I went to my room and tried to rest. But all I could see was Bobby Morrow out there in Texas some place and he was running, not resting. So I had to get up and get to work, too."

At the Drake Relays he had a long talk with Mel Patton, who helped him solve one of his problems. "I discovered during the indoor season," Dave said, "that sometimes when I was behind in a race, I would try too hard to catch up. I'd strain too hard, forget to relax—and I lost some races I should have won. Patton told me to try some staggered starts with a teammate set out ahead; to practice catching him while remaining relaxed."

The next week, with the help of Teammate Bob Honeycutt, a chunky little 9.9 halfback, Dave tried it. One day he ran 34 starts, each at full speed for about 35 yards. The next day Chambers put Honeycutt on the starting line, Dave six and a half yards back and let them run the full distance. Sime hit the finish line first in 10 seconds flat—and was relaxed while doing it. The time was about the equivalent of a 10.2 100 meters (109 yards, one foot), which, incidentally, is the world record.

Sime takes copious notes for a period of days before each race and files them neatly away in a notebook with the results achieved that weekend. "It's not superstition, you understand," he is careful to explain. "I've just got so much to learn, and I found out that if I do something particularly well I want to be able to remember what led up to it." And from Parry O'Brien, the world's premier shotputter who is also something of a yoga convert, Dave Learned the value of disciplining his mind before a race. "I used to worry," he says, "and when I went to the starting blocks I was as nervous as a cat. Now I try to relax and stay that way, think about everything but running and, when I can, to make my mind a complete blank. I let the others worry and when time for the race rolls around I feel just great—all ready and anxious to run. I haven't got quite as far as O'Brien with it yet," he admits, "but it's coming."

Should you ask him how he would feel if he should get beat, he looks you squarely in the eye and says: "I've been beaten before." He admits he doesn't like it—not even a little bit—but that he can take it. Is winning really that important? "Winning," he says, "can't be overemphasized. It's the most important thing in sports—as long as you also know how to lose."

There was one other problem for Dave Sime to solve before he could concentrate his every effort on winning a plane trip to Australia. Baseball. Football he never thought about again after his initial decision, and no one at Duke ever bothered him to go out for the sport (although Coach Bill Murray has been known to watch Sime walk past, lick his lips a little, shake his head sadly and then turn quietly away). But Sime was at school on a baseball scholarship, and he felt a deep sense of loyalty to Ace Parker, Duke's baseball coach and the man who offered him a chance to go to school without expense in the first place. He also felt a sense of loyalty to his father and Chuck Sime's dreams of the big leagues, and to himself and his plans to become a doctor with earnings he would some day make from this game he was now prepared to turn his back upon. So even after he had become the sensation of the indoor season, even after he had run a handful of 9.4s and beaten Morrow, he planned to split his time this spring between baseball and track.


It was then that Chambers and Lewis took him aside and told him the facts of life about competition on the level he would face this summer. They mentioned boys like Morrow and Jim Golliday and Leamon King and all the others who would bar his way and have been called collectively the greatest group of sprinters ever developed in the world at one time.

"Do what you want, Dave," they said. "It's your decision. But remember that you don't give sprinters like that even the smallest advantage in training and still hope to beat them. Not even you can do that."

Dave was convinced—but he still felt he owed a debt to Parker.

"He came to me," said Ace, "and asked me what would I do in his place. Well, I hated the thought of losing him, even for one year, but I'll tell you what I told him. 'Dave,' I said, 'how many people do you think there are in the world?' He said, 'Several billion, I guess.' 'Well, Dave, how many do you think get to the Olympics?' I asked. He said, 'Several hundred, I guess.' 'Well, boy,' I told him, 'if I had a chance to be one in a million, I don't think it would take me long to decide.' "

So David William Sime is taking a sabbatical from baseball. It may be his last because he wants to be a doctor and he believes that with coaching and determination—and a lot of old-fashioned hard work—he can someday make the big leagues and pay his own way. By the same token, although still years away from his peak, he may never again seriously race down the white-laned trail toward that mythical nine-second 100—for he also knows that there is no money in track.

There is only glory. And maybe a couple of Olympic gold medals. And, above all, some races to win and some guys to beat.




NECK 15½ IN.









ON LOVELY DUKE CAMPUS, Dave Sime is ribbed about sudden fame by Basketball Star Joe Belmont (left) and John Lack as he tries to catch up on reading between classes.


TREMENDOUS LEG DRIVE off starting blocks and powerful arm action characterize Sime's start, once weakest part of his race, but now, after constant coaching and practice, one of the strongest. Late starts, says the pleased Duke coach, are now quite rare.


"I've stood by you through the pink shirt, the felt Tyrolean, Ivy League jacket, Bermuda shorts, hand-painted ties, Truman shirts, the Bold Look, plaid vest and blue suède shoes. But this is goodby, Henry."