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"He's a Gentleman." Rafer Johnson's struggle to win a gold medal in the two-day event next week in many ways reflects the keenness of competition-at the 1960 Olympics. It is the challenge of his career. He knows his top foes all too well. One of them, Formosa's Yang Chuan-kwang, 27, is a fellow student at U.C.L A., has shared Johnson's workouts for the past two years. Lean and limber as bamboo, Yang is improving with impressive speed. And Johnson's duel with Russia's Kuznetsov dates back to the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, when Johnson finished second and Kuznetsov third to New Jersey's Milt Campbell. In 1958, Johnson defeated Kuznetsov in Moscow in the dramatic U.S.-U.S.S.R. track meet. Twice.
Kuznetsov has taken away Johnson's world record; twice, Johnson has won it back. Says Johnson: "I know Kuznetsov well enough to know three things about him. He's a fine athlete. He's a gentleman. And he's a competitor."
Man to Man. The competition between Johnson, Kuznetsov and Yang will be just one of the dozens of clashes that will de cide the unofficial team title in Rome.
Russia, the winner in 1956, is favored again largely because of strength in such sports as weight lifting and women's track, plus a crack gymnastic team that will pick up a dozen or so gold medals, offsetting U.S. superiority in men's track. Inevitably, the scoring of the Olympics by newsmen and public as a testing of national prestige will be decried by officials. The rule book plainly states: "The Olympics are a contest between individuals." Says Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic Committee: "When the gun is fired, each man knows he's on his own. The whole principle of the Olympics is man-to-man competition.''
Man-to-man competition, most evident in the decathlon, is present throughout the Olympics. In each event, the Olympic idea and ideals are the same. Among the best athletes who will, like Johnson, be on their own when the gun fires: In the 1,500 meters—the prestige race of the Olympics—Australia's Herb Elliott, 22, will take on the world, including Ireland's Ron Delany, winner of the gold medal in 1956, and the U.S.'s fast-improving Dyrol Burleson. World record holder in the 1,500 meters (3:36) and in the mile (3:54.5), Elliott has been hampered by a bad left foot this year, and some critics claim that he is not the run ner he was since getting married in May 1959. But Elliott has recently been training as of old, loping up sand dunes to strengthen his legs for what should be the finest race of the Olympics. Insists his coach, goateed Percy Cerutty: "Herb Elliott is more mature, faster, stronger and dedicated. He's faster right now than he ever was."