Tuesday, March 20, 2012
"Don't Quit, Damn It!"
Liquori vs Keino, 1970
This 1970 Martin Luther King Freedom Games 1500 meter race took place one year prior to Liquori's famous "Dream Mile" race against Jim Ryun in the 1971 version of this event. Here, Liquori is running on his home track at Villanova against the reigning Olympic 1500 meter champion, Kip Keino. This race stands as one of the most controversial races of the 1970s because of the dispute between (1) those who believe that Kip Keino purposely slowed down to let Liquori win on his own track (Keino allegedly told track photographer Jeff Johnson -- who took the photo above -- that it would have been "unsportsmanlike" under the circumstances to beat Liquori) and (2) those who argue that Keino went out too fast (1:56.6 through 800 meters) and -- not very fit at the time -- cratered over the final 200 meters, and lost to Liquori "fair and square." When Liquori passed Keino (who was practically standing still) he shouted at the Olympic gold medalist: "Don't quit, damn it!"
Here is the video of the race -- you decide which school of thought is correct.
By the way, three additional bits: (1) Kip Keino's son Kippy later ran at Villanova. (2) That's Donal Walsh on the infield in the photo above. (3) This is the first Villanova race I ever eye-witnessed live, at the age of 12.