In Moscow, what amounts to a full-scale dress rehearsal for next year's Olympic games got under way on Saturday (21 July) when the seventh summer Spartakiad opened in the new Lenin stadium.
In Moscow, what amounts to a full-scale dress rehearsal for next year's Olympic games got under way on Saturday (21 July) when the seventh summer Spartakiad opened in the new Lenin stadium. With the 1980 Olympics less than a year away, Soviet authorities have taken the opportunity of testing preparations by inviting international competitors to the normally domestic championships for the first time.
SYNOPSIS: Australian water polo captain Peter Montgomery made sporting history when he led the first of the 83 non-Soviet nations into the newly-opened Lenin stadium where most of the Olympic ceremonies and track and field events will take place.
Young athlete Vera Anisimova had the honour of carrying the ceremonial flame which will burn throughout the games. The Spartakiad is held every four years with the winners becoming top contenders for a place in the Soviet team for the next year's Olympics. The opening ceremony was a colourful spectacle evoking memories of the last Olympic games in Montreal, as Vera Anisimova climbed the stadium steps to light the flame.
The Olympic games mascot, Mischa the bear joined the hundreds of children sharing in the festivities. At the end of the ceremony, doves pigeons and balloons were released, and the stadium was given over to the first of the athletics events.
2,500 foreign athletes have taken the opportunity of using the Spartakiad as part of their preparation for the Olympics. The largest contingents come from Eastern European countries, but both the United States and Japan have also sent teams. Some of the 30 African nations represented have received Soviet aid in the form of free air fares to get their teams to Moscow
It looked like a close finish to this heat of the 400 metres hurdles until American Stan Vinson fell and lost his chance of qualifying for the final.
One of the first track finals was the 10,000 metres. Twenty-five laps of the circuit had taken their toll on most of the competitors, but Ethiopian Miruts Yifter still had plenty of running left as he went down the back straight for the final time.
Coming off the final bend he shook off the Soviet Union's Alexander Antipov and Barrett of Australia for a comfortable victory. Yifter's time of 27 minutes 44.2 seconds takes him into the world's top six for the event this year, and puts the Ethiopian well in line for a medal at next year's Olympics.