The Boston Indoor Games: Big Names, Exciting Races
It is clearly evident that the promoters of the Boston Indoor Games, held this past Friday at the Reggie Lewis Arena, have a flair for the dramatic, and are looking to make their meet a fixture on the US indoor circuit.
Posted Monday, 3 February, 1997
It is clearly evident that the promoters of the Boston Indoor Games, held this past Friday at the Reggie Lewis Arena, have a flair for the dramatic, and are looking to make their meet a fixture on the US indoor circuit. There were dozens of current and former Olympians competing in the meet, including a gold medalist or two. Of this illustrious group however, there was no mistaking the featured performer of the evening. That was native son Calvin Davis of Dorchester, making a homecoming of sorts, after capturing the bronze medal in the 400 meter hurdles in Atlanta.
Davis is a Boston guy through and through. His improbable story is what makes athletics great. After a stellar career as a football player and track man at Dorchester High School, Davis was recruited by Auburn University. He floundered in the new atmosphere of big-time college sports and academics however, and bounced around out of school and at a junior college. Calvin eventually landed at powerful Arkansas, where his athletic career was rejuvenated, resulting in an NCAA 400 meter championship.
The 400 meters is loaded with talented Americans, including Michael you-know-who, he of the golden shoes and Nike millions. It was decided that Davis give the 400 meter hurdles a try, which he did in the spring of 1996. A virtual neophyte at the barriers, he improved race by race, and earned a spot on the Olympic team last year. Davis' learning curve was still on a straight upward path when the Olympics rolled around. He seemed loose and relaxed as he easily moved through the rounds to the final. While Derrick Atkins was running away with the gold medal and Zimbabwe's Sam Matate the silver, Davis was battling with hardened veteran Sven Nylander from Sweden for the bronze. The juxtaposition could not have been more defined -- Davis almost brand new to the event and Nylander desperately seeking an Olympic medal after years and years in the sport. Calvin got him on the lean at the end, and the bronze was coming back with him to Boston.
The medal has given Davis some financial rewards, allowing him to concentrate on his track career instead of scraping by, worrying about making ends meet. On this night, Davis would be running in the flat 400 meters, his event saved for last, bib number one reserved for him.
While we were waiting for Calvin Davis, there were several very exciting and entertaining races. African Jackie Muranga controlled the women's 3000 meters, holding off fast closing Olympian Amy Rudolph (Cool Running's 1996 female New England Runner of the year) by one second in 9:11:64. The men's 3000 meters was very entertaining. Attleboro's Mark Coogan was on hand to do battle at a distance shorter than his best, but led for a good deal of the race, obviously trying to push the pace and take sting out of the kickers in the field. Mark Davis was having none of that however, as he moved to the front with a few laps left and easily won in 7:54:57, an outstanding time. The fun was just beginning for Mark Davis however. Shortly after crossing the finish line, Davis stopped and pointed both arms out, confirming his victory. He then paraded around the track for several "victory" laps, sans shirt, displaying a heavily tattooed torso. He continued this even while other races were going on! This guy was soaking up every morsel of available attention.
The men's 60 meter hurdles featured two-time Olympian Roger Kingdom, but it was Tony Dees who won the race. It requires undivided attention to watch the sprints, as the athletes are tightly bunched from start to finish. One exception was Carlette Guidry, who dominated the women's 60 meters in 7:19, nearly running right over the retaining wall and out of the arena after she finished. Randall Evans won the men's 60 meters, but the race brought back memories of Linford Christie in Atlanta, what with three false starts.
Veteran Joetta Clark showed why she is one of the USA's greatest 800 meter runners ever, easily taking that event in 2:02:38. The men's 1500 was exciting, as Jason Pyrah came from well off the pace to blow past the field on the last lap, winning in 3:39:16, an excellent indoor time. Pyrah's trademark is his sunglasses, which looked kind of silly indoors. The way he ran was anything but, giving hope he might emerge as a top international miler.
The two high school 400 meter races were fun, as many of the competitor's teammates were on hand to cheer them on. Conroy White from Boston English and Allison Culley from Foxboro won their events in 49:98 and 58:54 respectively. Any boy who can run sub-50 and girl sub-60 will most assuredly have the college recruiters at their doorsteps.
The meet was run quickly and efficiently, sticking to its two and a half hour time schedule. All the events save one had been run; it was time for the men's 400 and Calvin Davis. It was clear from the gun that Davis was going to have his work cut out for him, as he dropped back to third place. Dave Dopek took a commanding lead, which Davis eventually began to narrow. Coming around the last turn Davis made a move, but it was not enough to overhaul the powerful Dopek, who broke the tape in 45.85. Davis was second in 46.14. It was a somewhat anticlimactic conclusion to the evening, but no one seemed all that disappointed. What mattered more than Davis winning was the full schedule of entertaining events, which sent the crowd home happy. Even Calvin Davis would agree, there is a place for a first-rate track meet in Boston.