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¶In the 100-and 200-meter dashes, California's rangy Ray Norton, 22, will face half a dozen international stars who will need only the slightest break to beat him to the gold medals. Norton is the favorite because of his consistency under pressure and a smooth, driving stride that picks up speed as the race goes on. The long shot: West Germany's Armin Hary, 23, a Frankfurt department store clerk, who gets off the mark fast, ran the 100 meters in a world record time of 10 sec. Hary suffers from brittle nerves, and in preparation for the stress of Rome has been taking long walks in the country. In the end, Norton's chief threats will probably be his American teammates, such as Dave Sime, 24, in the 100, and Stone Johnson, 20, in the 200.
¶In the shotput, the U.S. whales will wage a private war that will likely produce the most fascinating field event on the program. Back for a try at his third gold medal is California's Parry O'Brien, patriarch of the herd at 28. whose best effort this year (63 ft. 5 in.) nonetheless stands a poor third to that of Arizona's 20-year-old Dallas Long (64 ft. 6½ in.) and Kansas' Bill Nieder, 26. the world record holder (65 ft. 10 in.). As the equalizer. O'Brien counts on his imposing reputation to demoralize his teammates, but Army Lieut. Nieder. who dislikes the hulking sight of his rival, says disdainfully: "O'Brien can't 'psych' me out." Top foreign challenger is Britain's Arthur Rowe, a blacksmith who shows off to fans by licking a red-hot bar, practices behind a neighborhood pub, and despite a commendable toss of 62 ft. 1 in., is expected to be completely psyched by the Americans in Rome.
¶In the jumping events, three U.S. world record holders are expected to land on the winner's stand. High Jumper John Thomas, 19, lectures himself before each attempt ("Now, John, don't duck your head into the bar"), takes his own advice so well that no one thinks his best jump of 7 ft. 3¼ in. is his peak. Pole Vaulter Don ("Tarzan") Bragg, 25, has hauled his fullback's body (6 ft. 3 in., 197 lbs.) up 15 ft. 9¼ in. Broad Jumper Ralph Boston, 21, holds the unofficial world record of 26 ft. 11½ in., will likely get his strongest competition from Germany's Dr. Manfred Steinbach, 27, whose best jump of 26 ft. 8½ in. was disqualified because of a tailwind.
¶In women's track, Tennessee State's Wilma Rudolph is the star of a U.S. team that is determined to score some surprises against the strong Australians and Russians. The 17th child in a family of 19. Wilma had rheumatic fever as an infant, did not walk until she was seven, and then wore braces for a couple of years. Star pupil of Shotputter O'Brien is Earlene Brown, a 25-year-old Los Angeles housewife, who is now up to a hefty throwing weight of 225 lbs. for the shot and the discus, after slimming down to 194 lbs. to have a baby.