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Rand, Mary (1940—)

Rand, Mary (1940—)

British athlete. Name variations: Mary Toomey. Born Mary Rand on February 10, 1940, in Wells, Somerset, England; married Bill Toomey (an American decathlon champion); children: Alison Toomey.

Broke the British national record in the pentathlon with 4,046 points (1957); won the silver medal (1958) and the gold medal (1966), both in the long jump in the Commonwealth Games; won the bronze medal in the long jump in the European championships (1962); shared the world record in the 4×100 relay (1963); won the Olympic gold medal in the long jump, the silver in the pentathlon, and a team bronze in the 400-meter relay (1964).

When asked what she would prefer, an Olympic gold medal or a world record, Mary Rand said she favored the record because she wanted to be the best in the world, "just for a moment." Fortunately, her gold medal and her world record happened simultaneously, in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Rand won Britain's first gold medal in women's track and field when she placed first in the long jump with a world record of 22'2¼", six inches higher than Irena Szewinska of Poland. Rand also took a silver in the pentathlon behind the Soviet Union's Irina Press . Though Rand scored more points than Press in three of the five events, Press' shot put totaled 384 points.

Rand, whose specialties were the long jump, the hurdles, and the pentathlon, felt she came alive on a wet track in Russia long ago in 1959; she was there as second-string hurdler behind her teammate Carol Quinton . When Quinton fell after the first or second hurdle, 19-year-old Rand knew instinctively she had to carry the torch. "I'd been in Carol's shadow without being aware of it," said Rand. "When Carol fell, I felt I had to win. And I did…. I've never forgotten it."

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