Olympian and great track and field athlete Larry Questad passed away on Nov. 1. 2020 at the age of 77. Some may not recall the name Questad but during his prime competition years he was known as “The fastest white man in the world.” Earlier this year I was doing some research on the Olympics and came across a documentary which focused on the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, specifically the Men’s 200 meter medal celebration where Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fist.
A part of the doc featured Questad’s reaction during the victory ceremony as he was perched in his seat at the stadium. He voiced being stunned and surprised at what he was watching as well as somewhat disappointed. Being from Utah he was not entrenched at the urban ills many in the black community experienced. He further mentioned great frustration with the Olympic coaching team for not allowing him be a part of the Men’s 4×100 relay because the coaching staff had decided to run “an all black team.” He assumed since lead runner Jim Hines was injured during one of the prelims, he would get selected as based on running times he was in the top four.
In life perspective is everything. Many like myself understood the protest, while those such as Larry saw it as something negative, if not disrespectful.
After watching the doc I knew I had some homework to complete. As a sixteen year old High School student and a person who always loved track and field, as well as being on staff at the 1984 Olympic Games which granted me the opportunity to meet both Tommie Smith and John Carlos, all I could wonder is why I had never heard about Questad’s lament?
About two months ago I tried to contact Questad. To my amazement I made contact and was eventually directed to his wife; Elizabeth who agreed to set up a tele/interview with him. About a month later, I struck oil as Larry called and allowed me a brief interview.
He has an amazing story and I am so grateful for his family in allowing me to speak to him. I was not aware of any severe health issues other than he was planning a hip surgery.
I would encourage you to do a little research to discover his feats. Even though he finished sixth in that iconic 200 meter race in Mexico City, to this day he holds records which are still standing.
Rest In Peace – LARRY QUESTAD, A life well lived.
I finally located the footage featuring Peter Norman. It included the comments I mentioned earlier made by Larry Questad regarding his perspective on the Black Athletes plight as well as being slighted for not being allowed to run on the Men’s 4×100 relay team. Astonishingly he admits to being in shock if not downright embarrassed by the gesture Smith and Carlos employed. Again, it shows how people from different groups see things differently. In Questad’s world it was unthinkable to show “disrespect” to the country you were representing. On the other hand Smith and Carlos challenged the very government of how Blacks were targeted and suffered trying to realize a productive lifestyle.