Vladimir Kuts

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Vladimir Kuts
Vladimir Kuts wins 10,000.jpg
Vladimir Kuts winning the 10,000 metres at the Melbourne Olympics
Medal record
Men's Athletics
Representing the  Soviet Union
Olympic Games
Gold Melbourne 1956 5000 metres
Gold Melbourne 1956 10,000 metres
European Championships
Gold Bern 1954 5000 metres

Vladimir Petrovich Kuts (Russian: Владимир Петрович Куц) (7 February 1927 – 16 August 1975) was a Soviet long-distance runner.

Kuts was born in Aleksino, Ukraine, USSR. Kuts, who was an army officer during his sportive career, was first noticed internationally in 1954. At the European Championships in Bern, Switzerland, he defeated the favourites - Czech star Emil Zátopek and Britain's Christopher Chataway - in the 5000 m, en route setting a new world record. Kuts lost the world record months later to Chataway (who beat him narrowly), only to take it back again 10 days later.

Having lost his world record again in 1955, Kuts was still one of the favourites for the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. His chief opponent in the 5000 m was British runner Gordon Pirie, who had broken the world record earlier that year. However, Kuts had set a new 10,000 metres world record shortly before the Games. In the first final, the 10,000 m Kuts - as always - led from the start, finally breaking Pirie's spirit 4 laps from the end, finally winning by a wide margin. He broke away from Pirie with a final, desperate sprint, having briefly surrendered the lead and admitted later that had Pirie stayed with him on that sprint, he would probably have dropped out as he was then so tired. The 5,000 m final (5 days later) was ended as a race quite early on when Chataway moved ahead of his British colleagues, Pirie and Ibbotson, then suffered an attack of stomach cramp on a bend - he had been picked on past performance having lacked first class competition for a year or so and the pace that Kuts was setting was faster than anything he had run. It allowed Kuts to open up a gap and although Pirie and Ibbotson chased him, the Soviet runner was able to exploit it. With Kuts having broken contact, Pirie ran what was virtually a front race for the latter part of the race but was still strong enough to hold off a late challenge by Ibbotson for second place. It seems likely that had he been able to maintain contact with Kuts he would probably have won as he had beaten him easily over the distance in world record time in Bergen, early that year but due to Chataway's mishap, Kuts gained his second gold of the Games. The British press was anti-Pirie as he had once criticised them in a televised speech at a Sportsman of the Year presentation and partly because of this and also due to their general lack of understanding of the sport, they reported the race as an easy win for Kuts.

Kuts improved the 5000 m world record in 1957 to 13:35.0 minutes, a time which would remain unbeaten until 1965, when it was bettered by Australia's, Ron Clarke. Although he was only beaten on a couple of occasions, Kuts retired at the age of 32 in 1959. He had often suffered from stomach pains and although he had denied that he had had operations, he found training difficult. That was confirmed by the fact that former runners who met him, in his later years, said that he looked badly overweight. His death at the age of 48, in Moscow, was possibly caused by a heart attack.

References[edit]

Records
Preceded by
Czechoslovakia Emil Zátopek
Men's 5000 m World Record Holder
29 August 1954 – 13 October 1954
Succeeded by
United Kingdom Chris Chataway
Preceded by
United Kingdom Chris Chataway
Men's 5000 m World Record Holder
23 October 1954 – 10 September 1955
Succeeded by
Hungary Sándor Iharos
Preceded by
Hungary Sándor Iharos
Men's 5000 m World Record Holder
18 September 1955 – 23 October 1955
Succeeded by
Hungary Sándor Iharos
Preceded by
United Kingdom Gordon Pirie
Men's 5000 m World Record Holder
13 October 1957 – 16 January 1965
Succeeded by
Australia Ron Clarke
Preceded by
Hungary Sándor Iharos
Men's 10,000 m World Record Holder
11 September 1956 – 15 October 1960
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Pyotr Bolotnikov