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story.lead_photo.caption Sid and Cathy Garton will have been married 54 years this December. She is his biggest fan and supporter, and has helped him create albums of memorabilia throughout the years. Photo by Andie Martin / Texarkana Gazette.

Just to show how fast Sid "The Jet" Garton was at the height of his running career, think of it this way: In the time it takes to read this paragraph, Sid Garton just ran the length of a football field.

Just the Facts

200 meters = 218.723 yards
Usain Bolt ran in 19.7 seconds in 2016 Olympics

220 yards (1.277 yards or 45.972 inches farther)
Sid Garton ran in 19.6 seconds in 1960

100 Yards
Sid Garton ran in 9.5 seconds in 1960

4/440 Yard Relay at Drake Relays, Des Moines, Iowa 1960
Garton ran in 41.1 seconds with teammates Fred Schaefer, James Baird and John West (each sprinter runs 110 yards).

Considerations include wind, weather, meters to yards, track conditions, track composition. In 1960, the tracks were grass, dirt, cinder, or ash. Today, tracks are made of synthetic material. In 1960, five men would be near the tape at the end of the race with stop watches. Today, times are marked by electronic timing devices.

Garton set world records as a sprinter in 1957-60 at both East Texas State University and New Boston High School.

And now, at long last, he is receiving the honor of being inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at now-named Texas A&M University-Commerce, his alma mater.

He received the phone call announcing his induction while he was in the hospital for a minor malady.

Cathy, his wife of 54 years, said, "I heard him tell the gentleman, 'Thank you so much, I am so honored. And thank you for doing it for me while I'm still alive. So many people get honored after they're gone. I'm glad I got to live to see it."

No matter what one's field of expertise, there is no greater honor than being inducted into a Hall of Fame. Just the recognition alone is of the highest order.

Dubbed the fastest man on earth at that time, Garton earned the nickname "The Jet." He matched world records set by the incomparable Jesse Owens, Bobby Morrow and Dave Sime. He even beat some of those records.

The Fastest Shoes on Earth are Sid Garton's old shoes from his running days, 1959 to 1960, at East Texas State University, now known as Texas A&M University-Commerce.
"In high school, I went to state four years in a row," Garton said. "I went to state freshman year, got fourth place at state my sophomore year, junior year I won state, and my senior year I not only won state, but I set records.

"And we didn't even have a track, didn't even have a track coach at first."

While watching the Summer Olympics last month, Garton, 76, came to a new realization. He was even faster than Usain Bolt's posted time in the 2016 Olympics for the 200 meters.

The difference being that when Garton raced, the races were measured in yards, whereas today they are measured in meters. Usain's 200 meters was a full 45.97 inches shorter than Garton's 220 yards.

That may not seem like much, but considering that tenths of a second make the difference between setting a world record or not, 45 inches matters.

Garton's name is in the Guinness Book of World Records and will never be retired thanks to the changes made in distance running.

And Garton has been kissing the cheek of the Olympics for years.

When he was running for the university track team, he was on his way to the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Sportswriters all over the country had him pegged to win the gold. He had already qualified for the 100-yard dash, 220-yard dash and the 440 relay.

But Garton's personal life took a tumble when his then-wife chose the day of Olympic trials to file for divorce. She moved away and took their young son with her. Garton was discouraged, stunned and heartbroken. He was only 19 years old. He never made it to the trials.

Gene Wilson, a longtime friend and classmate who would later write a book on Garton's life, took up a collection from residents in New Boston so that Garton could afford to go to Rome. But Garton missed his time trials. Wilson couldn't find him and eventually returned all the money he raised on his behalf. Garton had vanished.

Garton later managed to get his life back on track, so to speak, when he began seeing his old high school sweetheart, Cathy. She helped him put God back in his life. They raised their son and have thrived in the pawn brokerage business in Tyler.

Another touch with the Olympics occurred in 1996 when Garton was nominated to be a torch-bearer in Atlanta. He was in the running for the honor of lighting the flame. The Olympic Committee received about 1 million votes from around the country for Sid to receive that honor.

He and Cathy raised more than $200,000 for the Olympics in their quest for Garton to have this privilege. They sold bricks that were used to pave a road in the Olympic Park. Letters were written on his behalf from people as famous as then-Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

In 1960 Sid Garton flew to the finish line as the anchor runner in the 4/440 relays, leaving the other runners several steps behind at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Submitted photo
Garton was in the pawn shop business for years, and the National Pawn Brokers Association pulled out all the stops to support their fellow businessman. The Olympic Committee received thousands of letters from brokers all over the country who were campaigning for him.

But once more, Garton was again kissing the cheek as the final choice was made in favor of Muhammad Ali, who ran the last several yards to light the flame.

Garton was given the position of runner-up, in the event that Ali would be unable to complete the run.

During his running career, Garton received many awards and recognitions for his unusual and unique ability to run faster than anyone else.

The Texas State Senate proclaimed an official senate resolution in his honor. A special Texas flag was presented to him that had flown over the state capitol in his honor.

He once returned from the Drake Relays in Iowa, the Super Bowl of Track and Field relays, with five gold watches he won by being the fastest anchor sprinter in the contest.

And now, the ultimate prize of allthe Athletic Hall of Fame from his alma mater; the highest honor bestowed on a collegiate athlete.

The induction ceremony at Texas A&M-Commerce will be held Sept. 24. Activities will begin with a luncheon in his honor at 11:30 a.m. in the Sam Rayburn Student Center. A tailgate meet and greet will be held at 4 p.m. followed by recognition and announcements during the game's halftime that evening.

 

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