June 1913. The 100 meters is a quick race. It only lasts a few seconds and then it is done. However, it was a Greenfield man who had the fastest feet on the track. The newspaper articles from the event describe the day as one “of the prettiest days.” It was also exciting, as the sprinters lined up, and the gun went off. In 11.4 seconds, Tom Black, a young man of 19 from Greenfield, Indiana, had won a national title in the 100 meters!
But there is one thing about this title. It wasn’t in America. Tom had just won the 100-meter race for the 16th National Athletic competition in Colombes, France. Running for the Paris Universite Club, Tom beat Rene Mourlon at the finish line in order to receive his gold medal.
The newspapers also describe the day as significant because of an important dignitary in the stands. Mr. Louis Barthou, the current President of the Council and Minister of Public Instruction, was present at this event (by the month of July, he would be France’s Premier, serving only a few months). It should also be noted that the track at Colombes would be significant for another 100-meter race. This one would be at the 1924 Olympics, and the movie “Chariots of Fire” would be based on that story.
So how did a young man from Greenfield make it to that track in Colombes in 1913? Well that is an interesting story…