News26 Mar 2002

Armin Hary  - first man to run 10 second 100 metres - is 65


Armin Hary   first man to run 10 second 100 metres - is 65
Ursula Kaiser for the IAAF
26 March 2002 - If the telephone is ringing in Armin Hary’s house, he and his wife are playing hide-and-seek. "That’s our special sport", Christina Hary says and smiles. And the telephone is ringing very often in these days. Because the head of the  household was celebrating his 65th birthday on 22 March. The man, who had to run 10.0 sec three times until the world accepted him on 21 June 1960 as the world record holder.

His fight for this was a curiosity. Already in September 1958 at a small meeting in Friedrichshafen Hary ran for the first time 10.0 - with a lightning start. The time wasn't accepted as something was said to be wrong with the track.

But this was not the end of the story. On 21 June the then 23-year-old Hary was timed at 10.0 seconds again in Zürich after a false start. The starter didn't call the sprinter back, but the time again wasn't ok. Furious about that, Hary wanted to run again.

The jury accepted because the starter said that he had wanted to recall the race but he was to nervous to do it.

"It was a big risk", Hary remembered. "If I couldn't reach 10.0 again, everybody would have said, he only can run this time with a false start". But he did it. Less than one hour later, her ran the dream time again. Now everybody must finally accept it.

These episodes belong to the past. After his sports career Armin Hary retired and didn`t want to know anything about athletics any more. "Throughout my life, I wanted people to accept me as a normal human being and not as an Olympic Champion", Armin Hary recounts

"I was often afraid to be glad about my results, because I had been told that I made everything wrong all the time.“ This is the explanation for the moment after he won the Olympic title 1960 in Rome, when he won the race but didn't show any emotions.

A lot of people thought it was arrogance, but to tell the truth, it was only insecurity. Whatever Armin Hary did, always somebody found a fly in the ointment.

Armin Hary says honestly: "I regret that I was not born some decades later.  If I could repeat my success today, I would earn a lot of money.

In the Fifties and at the beginning of the Sixties the athletes had to fight even for expenses. "But it was a beautiful but difficult time", Armin Hary said.

Sports is only one chapter in his life. After retiring he tried a lot of things. He would have had a chance to go into the movies.

"But it was not sure enough. I had to think of my future.“ He was not at all interested in the publicity: "If I would have earned so much money that I didn't care what the people thought about me, I would have done it. But it wasn't like this.“

He worked as a salesman for different things and says: "You have to earn the money where you can earn it." In the end he founded a real estate agency  and today he still occasionally works as an adviser in the building trade.

 The 1.83 m tall sprinter lives with his wife Christina, two dogs and two cats who are all called with names from the game of golf, in a small village in Bavaria. His house in a Mediterranean style he designed himself.    

Armin Hary loves golf (Handicap 8), and he likes bicycle riding; he is interested in art and collects everything that is beautiful.

The Olympic Champion from 1960 loves Italy. "I was thinking already to move there, but now it’s no time anymore for us. 

But he did do one thing: Hary celebrated his 60th birthday with 60 people in Rome, the city where in 1960 he won two gold medals.

His four gold medals he keeps in a glass table, beside another medal, he got from the government of Japan, because he was the first man to run 10.0 sec in the 100 m. And he was elected as the "runner of the century.  

"I chase after something, and if I reach it, I am not interested in that anymore", he said. He has been like this since he was young. And he is not very patient. This makes life hard.

In the last twenty years there was a lot of gossip and lies about him. For that he was very disappointed. "I know a lot of people, but I only have very few friends", he said. "But I know I may not be too critical, otherwise I will be sitting there alone when I am old." 

Armin Hary is not an easy person to gauge. Only he knows really how he is on the inside.

When he was a sprinter, he was very unpopular with the officials, because he always said what he thought.  

He is also disappointed with athletics today, especially with the Germans. "You can see rarely good white athletes, not to mention Germans. A lot of young athletes are not ambitious enough. But on the other hand they don’t have time to develop themselves."   

Armin Hary thinks, "everybody must go his own way". Like he did.

He must fight for acceptance a lot. Because his was the era of Manfred Germar, who was "everybody’s darling" and Martin Lauer, who was the most multi-talented athlete Germany ever had. And then up came a young guy who wanted to push them from the pedestal. The public in Germany didn’t like that obviously. This fight has formed him. Today for example Lauer is his best friend.

Very often the people compared him with the actor James Dean, who was a rebel in his period. When he was 17 he left his home. "Everyday I learned a lot", he said. He got a lot of anger, because he criticised the officials in a magazine, the federation banned him over an affair with expenses, everybody today would laugh about that.   

 When they allowed him to run again, he didn`t want to anymore. But the knee injury, he got from a car accident, was not the real reason. He retired after only four years. He was just 24. "I had reached everything I could", he said. His former coach, Bert Sumser was a person Hary trusted. "We were like father and son". But he knew, that Hary’s career was finished. "If he said no, he meant no."         

Today the Double-Olympic Champion says, “I am sure I made many mistakes, but I also made a lot of good things."

Armin Hary had 65 exciting and turbulent years; now he doesn’t want to plan anymore. "Somebody has plans if he thinks, that he can fulfill and realize himself.

Armin Hary is a person with a hard shell and a soft interior. And it’s not easy to break the shell. But what he wanted to say at the end is important for him. "Do not put up with things, you must go your own way.” There could be no better example than Armin Hary: he had to fight for everything, but nobody could stop him. Even if the way was rough and stony.

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