|Born||13 June 1936|
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Weight||65 kg (143 lb; 10 st 3 lb)|
|Event(s)||800–10,000 m, cross-country|
|Achievements and titles|
|Personal best(s)||800 m – 1:47.1 (1962)|
1500 m – 3:36.3 (1966)
5000 m – 13:27.6 (1965)
10,000 m – 29:03.2 (1965)
Michel Jazy (born 13 June 1936) is a French former middle-distance runner and long-distance runner. He won the 1500 metres silver medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics, as well as two golds (in 1962 and 1966) and one silver (in 1966) at the European Championships. He set nine world records in the mile (once), 2000 metres (twice) and 3000 metres (twice), the two miles (twice) and the 4×1500 metres relay (twice).
Jazy was born into a poor coal-mining family from Poland. His grandfather, together with his wife and their daughter, emigrated from Poland to France after World War I. They settled in Oignies. Michel's grandfather worked as a coal miner in nearby Ostricourt. Michel's father was also a coal miner, whereas Michel's mother worked in a brewery in Lille. Michel was raised by his grandmother during much of his childhood. He was 12 years old when his father died of silicosis. When Michel was 14 years old, he, his mother (Marianne Jazy) and his older sister (Alfreda) settled in Paris. Marianne worked as a waitress in a café in Montmartre. Marianne remarried; her new husband, a truck driver, moved the family into a 10-by-12-foot, one-room apartment at Rue Rodier in Montmartre. Michel was passionate about football when he was a schoolboy. As a schoolboy, he would spend hours daily playing football. Michel left school at the age of 14 and became a uniformed doorman and elevator operator at a bridge club near the Arc de Triomphe. At 16 he became an apprentice in a neighborhood printshop.
Jazy won his first French national championship title in 1953 – the 1000 m race at the youth level (for those under the age of 18 years). He won his second French national championship title in 1955 – the 1500 m race at the junior level (for those under the age of 20 years). His first coach was René Frassinelli, who with Charles Poulenard (the coach of the French, middle-distance runner Jules Ladoumègue), quickly saw Jazy’s potential. In August 1956, Jazy joined the air force. He did 27 months of military service there, but his running career was not interrupted. He set a national record for the 1,500 meters in 1957. In the same year he married Irène Denis, a blonde secretary from Paris. They had two daughters, Pascale (born 1960) and Véronique (born 1963). After Jazy left the air force at the end of 1958, he worked at a printing plant. His employers there had no sympathy with his athletics training schedule and forced him to work overtime. To his rescue came Gaston Meyer, the editor-in-chief of the French daily sports newspaper L'Équipe. Convinced that Jazy could become a champion, Meyer gave Jazy an afternoon typographer's job, which enabled him to train in the mornings.
In his first participation at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956, Jazy clocked a time of 3:50.0 in the 1500 metres, which equaled his personal best but was not sufficient to reach the final. Yet Jazy was pleased with those Games because he was selected to share a room with the legendary Alain Mimoun. It was a life-changing experience for Jazy. “I came to realize down there in Melbourne what glory was and what sacrifices were necessary in the years ahead to obtain it. Alain Mimoun opened my eyes to what I needed to do. I became hungry. I had got the message.”
At the next Olympic Games in Rome in 1960, Jazy won the silver medal in the 1500 metres. In the final, Jazy ran the race of his life to obliterate his personal best time and set a new national record, finishing 18 metres and 2.8 seconds behind Herb Elliott. Elliott won the final in a new world record time.
In the 1964 Olympics 5000 metres final in Tokyo, Jazy took the lead halfway into the first bend of the final lap. He was ahead of the leading runner of the chasing pack by a body length 100 metres from the finish line. However, he faded badly and finished fourth.
On 30 June 1965, Jazy took part in a 5000 metres race held in the Finnish capital, Helsinki. The race, called "the 5000 metres race of the century" by French newspapers, had a world-class field comprising Jazy, Ron Clarke, Jürgen Haase, Kipchoge Keino, Billy Mills and Bob Schul. Jazy won the race in a personal best and new European record time of 13:27.6 minutes, with Keino and Clarke finishing in second and third place, respectively.
On 12 October 1966 in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, Jazy won a 2000 metres race in 4:56.2 minutes, which was his ninth and last world record.
Between 1961 and 1966, Jazy set nine world records over the mile (once), 2000 metres (twice) and 3000 metres (twice), the two miles (twice) and the 4×1500 metres relay (twice). Four of those records – the mile, the 3000 metres, the two miles and the 4×1500 metres relay – were set in June 1965. He also set 17 European and 47 national records.
Between 1956 and 1966, Jazy won nine national track titles: two over 800 m, six over 1500 m and one over 5000 m, and three national cross-country titles. He was chosen as the French L'Équipe Champion of Champions in 1960, 1962 and 1965, and was awarded the first Trophée Micheline Ostermeyer on 4 November 2004.
Between 1961 and 1966, Jazy set nine world records over the following distances:
(only the position and time in the final are indicated, unless otherwise stated)
|1956||Olympic Games||Melbourne||7th (h)||1500 m||3:50.0|
|1958||European Championships||Stockholm||10th||1500 m||3:45.4|
|1960||Olympic Games||Rome||2nd||1500 m||3:38.4|
|1962||European Championships||Belgrade||1st||1500 m||3:40.9|
|1964||Olympic Games||Tokyo||4th||5000 m||13:49.8|
|1966||European Championships||Budapest||1st||5000 m||13:42.8|
|1966||European Championships||Budapest||2nd||1500 m||3:42.2|