Lindy Remigino, who went from fifth at the NCAA Championships to winning the Olympic 100m in about a month in 1952, died at age 87 on Wednesday, according to Manhattan College, his alma mater.
Remigino, then 21, earned gold at the Helsinki Games in the closest Olympic sprint final in history (video here), according to Olympic historians.
The first four finishers were given times of 10.4 seconds, and a photo was needed to determine the medalists.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Remigino said later, according to Manhattan College. “I was used to running in front of a lot of people at Madison Square Garden. I got off to a good start, and I had the lead by the 55-meter mark. I said to myself, ‘I’m going to win this thing,’ but I leaned too early. I leaned 25 meters from the finish and thought I blew it.”
Remigino (wearing bib 981 in the above photo) was awarded gold ahead of Jamaican Herb McKenley and Brit McDonald Bailey.
“Herb and I were very close,” Remigino said, according to Manhattan College. “I said to him, ‘Herb, I think you won this thing,’ but then they brought out the photo and showed us that I had won.”
Remigino’s automatic timing result was 10.79 seconds, .01 ahead of McKenley and just .12 faster than the last-place finisher in the six-man race. The 1996 Olympic women’s final saw Gail Devers and Merlene Ottey go one-two in the same time of 10.94 seconds, but the rest of that field was more separated than the 1952 men’s 100m.
Remigino later was part of the U.S. 4x100m team that also took gold in Helsinki.
Remigino had finished fifth in the 100 yards at the NCAA Championships the previous month and failed to qualify for the AAU Championships final. He surprisingly made the U.S. Olympic team by finishing second at trials behind Art Bragg.
Remigino, named after Charles Lindbergh, went on to coach Hartford Public High School in Connecticut to 31 state team titles with 157 individual state champions. He was inducted into at least 10 halls of fame, including the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2017.
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