Bob Hayes, "the fastest man who ever lived" died recently of kidney failure. In the Tokyo Olympic games in 1964, he won the 100 meter dash in 10 seconds flat, which tied the world record. Five days later, he ran in the finals of the Olympic 440 meter relay. The fastest man on a relay team runs last, so in the anchor leg, he took the baton from Dick Stebbins in the passing zone about five yards sooner than usual. He received the baton in fifth place, 112 yards from the finish line and saw the United Nations in front of him. First, he had to catch Jamaica. Then, he had to catch Russia, then Poland and then France. "I just got the baton and took off," Hayes said. "I just kept looking at guys out of the corner of my eye as I was passing them." In the blur that lasted 8.6 seconds, Bob Hayes ran the fastest 110 meters of all time. Nobody before or since has run that fast.
The next year, Bob Hayes took his world-class speed to the Dallas Cowboys, gained more than 1000 yards that season, and led the NFL in yards per catch and receiving touchdowns . He was so fast that opposing teams had to play zone defense against him because no one man could cover him when he went out for pass. Things weren't always good for the world's fastest human. He was brought up very poor. A few years ago, he told reporters: "I didn't have a normal teen-age life. It was hard and tough...pool halls and shoeshine parlors."
One reporter wrote that Bob Hayes went on to become the world's fastest human in spite of being born with such flat feet that he had to be put in casts to have them corrected. The reporter did not know that people with flat feet are often fast runners because rolling in allows their feet to press harder on the ground to force them forward with greater force. When you run, you land on the outside bottom of your feet and roll inward to absorb the hard shock of your foot striking the ground. Most people who have flat feet have normal arches. Their feet appear flat because they have flexible ankles that allow their feet to roll so far inward that their arches touch the ground, so you can't see them. The more you roll in, the greater the shock absorption and protection from injury.
Almost all of the world's great sprinters have flat feet. The newspaper article should have said that Bob Hayes went on to become the world's fastest human in spite of the physician who almost ruined his athletic career by putting casts on the world's strongest feet.
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