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The Soviet athlete survived “clinical death.” It’s all about the heat in the US

Date: February 28, 2024 Time: 18:13:58

Today, domestic athletics, with a margin from around the world, is somewhere in the depths of domestic competitions. And earlier, especially in the post-war period, match meetings between the national teams of the USSR and the USA were very fashionable. And such events attracted hardly less attention than the Olympic Games and the World Championships. The battle between the two great athletics and not only the powers is the icing on the cake of world sport.

During one of these meetings, a tragedy occurred that took two athletes out of world sports at once. But above all it went to the Soviet runner Hubert Pyarnakivi. At the cost of literally his life, under the scorching sun and in the terrible atmosphere of the Philadelphia stadium, Hubert ran to the finish line and died a “clinical death.”

The LIFE Image Collection

The young Soviet long-distance runners Pyotr Bolotnikov and Hubert Pyarnakivina showed the best results in the 5000 meters at the USSR Championships. Consequently, it was they who had to represent the country in the confrontation with the Americans in the first friendly match in Moscow in 1958. Estonian Pärnakivi was a second behind Bolotnikovan in the domestic championship and lost the “gold”, but in the battle with the Americans he surpassed not only his teammate, but also the representative of the United States Bill Dellinger, who six years later will become the winner of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Soviet athletes won that meeting.

A year later, the Americans were looking forward to the arrival of the Soviet team to take revenge for the defeat in Moscow. On July 18, 1959 in Philadelphia there was terrible heat of thirty degrees, but even worse was the case with humidity – 88 percent, which literally ate up all the strength of the athletes. Suffice it to say that from time to time ambulances would take away spectators receiving heat strokes from the overcrowded stadium.

The first day of the competition was drawing to a close, the Americans rightfully leading 75:73. The 10,000 meter race was supposed to complete the program. The Soviet team was represented by Alexey Desyatchikov and Hubert Pyarnakivi, the American team by Robert Soth and Max Truex. The final score was as simple as possible: the winner contributed five points to his team (5), the rest of the points were distributed according to the positions occupied (3-2-1).

The start of the race was in the hands of our athletes. The athletes maintained a medium pace, so as not to exhaust themselves already at the beginning of the distance. When the eighth kilometer was passed, the American runner Soth lunged forward. In order not to let the opponent get far, Pyarnakivi ran after him. Desyatchikov and Truex decided to postpone the acceleration, hoping that the runaway athletes would quickly run out. Soon a real drama broke out in the distance. American Honeycomb began to literally fall apart before our eyes. His run became similar to a man’s gait firmly on his chest, his legs tangled together. After a moment, he came to a complete stop, after which he fell to the ground. The life of an athlete from the United States was saved by a Soviet doctor who rushed over and gave Sot a heart massage.

The LIFE Image Collection

A short time later, Hubert Pärnakivi met exactly the same fate. Desyatchikov, keeping his composure at a distance, had passed his friend well and finished first (having run one more lap due to an error by the organizers). Hubert in the last few meters began to give exactly the same “pretzel” as Sot recently, turning in different directions, but from where he was looking for internal opportunities so as not to fall and reach the finish line. He fell at the finish line. Pärnakivi covered the last 100 meters in a whole minute! The Soviet athlete, like the American, experienced clinical death at a distance. Surprisingly, when the Estonian fell, he uttered the words: “We must run to the end.”

The LIFE Image Collection

After the dramatic race, Pärnakivi and Soth were no longer able to do athletics and, it can be said, they gave up sports forever. Desyatchikov and Truex participated in the Olympics, but did not achieve significant success. In the USSR, for a long time, no one knew about Hubert’s feat. About how the end was given to the Soviet runner was remembered only in 1970, when the film “Sport. Sport. Sport”. After the video footage shown in this documentary, sports officials suddenly perked up and quickly awarded Pärnakivi the title of Honorable Master of Sports. Hubert died in 1993 in his native Estonia, where a monument was erected in his honor during his lifetime.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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