Jim Hines, 1968 Olympic 100m champion and world record-holder, dies


American won double gold at the Mexico Games as well as holding the world 100m mark for 15 years

On October 14, 1968, Jim Hines settled into his blocks for the 100m final at the Mexico Games. It was the first Olympics on a synthetic track and 2248m above sea level and, helped with a gentle tailwind of 0.3m/sec the 22-year-old American stormed to victory in 9.95 – the first-ever ratified automatic world record at the distance.

Four days after his triumph he signed for the Miami Dolphins football team. His 100m mark, however, survived for 15 years before Calvin Smith improved it to 9.93 – also at altitude – in Colorado in 1983.

Given this, Hines, who died this week aged 76, is one of the significant members of the exclusive club of athletes who have held the world 100m record.

In addition to winning the Olympic 100m title in Mexico, he combined with Charles Greene, Melvin Pender and Ronnie Ray Smith to take the 4x100m gold too in a world record of 38.2. Outside of the Olympics, he set world records at 100 yards with 9.1 and 4×100 yards with 39.6 in 1967.

Born in Arkansas, Hines grew up in California as the son of a construction worker and initially played baseball before his talent as a sprinter was spotted and he went to Texas Southern University.

In the run-up to the Mexico Games he clocked a hand-timed 9.9 for 100m in Sacramento and also a wind-assisted 9.8 at the same meeting in 1968.

Jim Hines (Getty)

At the Mexico Games itself he was at the height of his powers as he led Lennox Miller of Jamaica and Greene of the United States home.

Shortly after the Olympics he came back to his home in Houston to find burglars had stolen his television, wife’s jewellery and his gold medals, but after placing an advert in his local newspaper asking the thieves to return the medals they eventually arrived back with him in a plain brown envelope.

After his sprints career his time in the NFL did not go that well, playing a handful of games for Miami in 1969 before Kansas City Chiefs.

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