The June 18, 1962, issue of Sports Illustrated had an article by Jack Nicklaus advising right-handed golfers how to hit a left-handed shot. Also: full-page ads promoting whiskey and cigarettes (Marlboro and Viceroy) and a blooming sprinter from Northern California in “Faces in the Crowd.”It read: “Irene Obera of Berkeley, Calif., has out-sprinted everyone on her home-state tracks this season with three breezy 10.9s and an 11.0 in the 100-yard dash, gives promise of being a front-runner for the AAU women’s nationals next month in Los Angeles.”
How did Irene do? She took fifth in the 100-yard dash (in 10.9) behind Olympic legend Wilma Rudolph (10.7), Willye White (10.8), Janell Smith (10.9) and Edith McGuire (10.9). She also was third in the 100-meter dash in 11.9 — a race won by Wilma in 11.4.
Jack Nicklaus doesn’t have much of a game anymore, but Irene does. And she may have set a record even Jack would appreciate — a third appearance in FITC.
In March 2014, SI again featured Irene in “Faces.” But not just a short squib.Under an “Update” tag and the headline “Still Running,” the profile noted her 1962 FITC appearance, Masters Hall of Fame induction and W80 world records.
Forgetting that I had nominated her five years ago, I submitted her name again in early April, writing about her “exploits at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland, where she set W85 age-group world records at 60 meters, 200 meters and 4×200 relay.”
So I was delighted to learn she’s in “Faces in the Crowd” yet again.
She’s in the current issue — which notes her selection of 1962 but not 2014. (Glad I didn’t mention that.)
Can’t wait for 2024, when I’ll nominate her again for W90 WRs.
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