Editors note: This piece is being reposted due to the Memorial on January 20, 2024 for the late Mike Fanelli. Mike was the cultural historian of our sport, a lifetime runner, a former Reebok sports marketing manager, coach, athlete, agent, elite athlete coordinator, real estate impresario, friend, brother, and husband. We will miss him. I wanted our readers to have a small selection of his pieces on #RunBlogRun over the years. Mike Fanelli, 1956-2023, RIP. 

We are reposting this article by Mike Fanelli on the 54th anniversary of the 1968 Mexico Olympics. This is day 1 of Mike’s amazing series. The Mexico Olympics were an incredible Olympic Games. Many believe that the world was changed by these games. We thank Mike Fanelli for his love of the sport. This was first published on RunBlogRun in 2018. 

This is day 1 of the 1968 Mexico Olympics, reconsidered by Mike Fanelli. Using his wonderful writing skills, love of the sport, and the amazing archives of the Track Garage, the 9th wonder of the world, Mike provides us access to the Olympic world fifty years ago.

NIFTY NAFTALI…precisely 50 years ago today, track and field at the 1968 Olympic Games kicked off in the dizzying 7,000+ foot altitude of Mexico City.

The inaugural final of these legendary Games, the men’s 10,000 meters, produced Kenya’s very first-ever Olympic gold medal in any discipline when that country’s, Naftali Temu, surged past Ethiopian great Mamo Wolde with just 50 meters remaining in that 25-lap contest. Temu’s prior Olympic outing was a 49th place finish at the Tokyo track meet four years prior…pretty nifty progression, I’d say.

For Wolde, who competed previously in the 1956 Games (where he even ran a leg on the 4 x 400-meter relay) and in Tokyo ’64, this silver medal would become his first-ever bit of Olympic hardware. Finishing in third place was Tunisia’s greatest-ever trackster, Mohamed Gammoudi. Wolde and Gammoudi would eventually become members of the Oly trifecta club, limited to those who earned all three colored ducats of gold, silver, and bronze.

Furthermore, the track and field garage’s linguistics division has formally declared the name Naftali Temu amongst their top ten all-time favorites, purely for how it unfolds so fluidly when leaving one’s lips.

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