Sport: Champion with a Plan

At the crack of the starter's gun, Mal Whitfield broke from his crouch and eased into his power-glide stride. The four-man field in the 500-yd. race whirled around the first turn, Whitfield dead last. Then Whitfield began to pass the others, one by one, in short but conclusive bursts of speed. His theory, which has carried him to two consecutive Olympic gold medals at 800 meters: "Pass them big—then they won't try to come back to you."

Going into the last lap, Mal Whitfield had only one man ahead of him: Jamaica's Herb McKenley, world-record holder at 440 yds. Shortening his 8-ft....

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