Profile: Vince Matthews

I GUESS THIS COMES UNDER THE CATEGORY OF “OLD NEWS”… interesting though to recall the history of some of these great athletes

Vincent Matthews
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Olympic medal record
Men’s Athletics
Gold 1968 Mexico City 4x400 m relay
Gold 1972 Munich 400 meters
Vincent Edward (“Vince”) Matthews (born December 16, 1947) is a former American athlete, winner of two gold medals at the 1968 Summer Olympics and 1972 Summer Olympics.

Vince Matthews was one of the best American long sprinter to appear in the mid-1960s, and developed a fierce rivalry with future Olympic champion Lee Evans. The pair first met in their teens, and then duelled several times in 1967, with Evans coming out on top in the AAU Championships and Pan American Games.

At the warm-up meet two weeks prior to the Olympic Trials in 1968, Matthews set the new world record 44.4 in 400 m, but his time was not recognised due to his use of PUMA’s illegal “brush spikes”. At the Trials themselves, he was then beaten out of the top three by Evans, Larry James and Ron Freeman.

At the Olympic Games in Mexico City, Matthews ran the first leg on American’s gold medal winning 4x400 m relay team that set the world record of 2:56.16, which lasted for 24 years.

After Mexico, Matthews gave up track and field for a time as he struggled with the demands of work and marriage, but somehow worked his way back to full fitness and into contention for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. At the Olympic Trials, Vince finished third behind John Smith and Wayne Collett, beating old rival Lee Evans into fourth. In Olympic final, after 80 meters, when Smith pulled a leg, the race turned into a battle between Matthews and Collett, Matthews winning in 44.66, with Collett coming second in 44.80.

Unfortunately, the triumph was tarnished by the behaviour of Matthews and Collett during the medal ceremony, talking to each other and fidgeting while the US national anthem played, leading many to believe it was a Black Power protest like that of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in 1968. The pair denied any deliberate wrongdoing, but were banned from future Olympic competition by the IOC. This debacle and John Smith’s injury meant that the USA no longer had enough men to fill a 4x400 m relay team and were forced to withdraw from the contest.

Lee Evans (athlete)
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Olympic medal record
Men’s Athletics
Gold 1968 Mexico City 400 metres
Gold 1968 Mexico City 4x400m relay
Lee Edward Evans (born February 25, 1947) is a former American athlete, winner of two gold medals at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

Born in Madera, California, Evans was undefeated in high school and won his first AAU championship in 440 yd (402.34 m) in 1966, shortly after graduating. He repeated his win in next year and won AAU and NCAA 400 m titles in 1968.

Lee Evans achieved his first world record at 1966, as a member of the US national team which broke the 4 x 400 m relay record at Los Angeles, the first team to better 3 minutes (2:59.6) for the event. In next year he broke the 4 x 220 yd (201.17 m) relay world record at Fresno in a time of 1:22.1.

Evans won the 1968 Olympic trials with a world record 44.0 and demolished it in Olympic final, winning in time 43.86. Evans won a second gold as the anchorman on the 4 x 400 m relay team, setting another world record of 2:56.1. Both the times stood as a world record for 20 years.

After winning the AAU 400 m titles in 1969 and 1972, Evans finished only fourth in the 1972 Olympic trials, but was named a member of the 4 x 400 m relay team once more. However, the United States couldn’t field a team because Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett were suspended, for a demonstration at a medal ceremony like Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the previous Olympics. Evans became a professional after the 1972 season. He was reinstated as an amateur in 1980 and ran a 46.5 in one of his few appearances that year, at the age of thirty-three. Evans went on to head the national atheletics programs in six different African Nations before accepting a position as head cross country/track & field coach at the University of South Alabama.

Upon fulfilling his contract, Evans plans to return to either Africa or Mexico where “you are truly free - not like this fake freedom America has everybody believing in.”

Evans’ college and amatuer careers as well as his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement is chronicled in Frank Murphy’s The Last Protest: Lee Evans in Mexico City. He was deeply involved in the movement and is currently an AIDS dissident – actively engaged in the fight against the HIV/AIDS industry. (See external link below.)

[edit] External link

Alonzo Babers
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Olympic medal record
Men’s athletics
Gold 1984 Los Angeles 400 m
Gold 1984 Los Angeles 4x400 m relay
Alonzo C. Babers (born October 31, 1961) is a former American athlete, winner of two gold medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics, in the 400m and the 4x400m relay.

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Alonzo Babers attended the United States Air Force Academy from 1979 to 1983, where he ran track and played one season of football.

The international athletics career of Alonzo Babers consisted of a spectacular rise to fame, followed by a decisive and abrupt end. Up to the end of 1982, Babers’s best time in 400 m was 45.9, but he rapidly improved on that during 1983, running a best time of 45.07, but at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki he finished in a disappointing sixth place in the 4 x 400 m relay.

Babers continued his rapid improvement in 1984. At the USA Final Olympic Trials in Los Angeles, he won his semi-final in a personal best of 44.95. Later, in the final, he ran another personal best of 44.86 to qualify to the Olympic team. At the Los Angeles Olympic Games he further lowered his personal best to 44.75 when he won his quarter-final. In the Olympic final, Babers run 44.27 to win the gold medal. In the 4 x 400 m relay, United States (Babers ran the third leg) won the gold medal easily in 2:57.91.

While training for and competing in the 1984 Olympics, Babers held the rank of second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Just one month after his double-gold performance in Los Angeles, Babers reported to flight training school and began his career as a pilot, so his athletics career was over. He was an active duty officer in the United States Air Force from 1983 to 1991 and continues to serve as a member of the Air Force Reserves. Now he serves as a pilot for United Airlines.