The last time the Olympics were in London was 1948, when TIME featured American track star Mel Patton its cover subject. His sprinting prowess as a student U.S.C., and his unofficial world record of running 100 meters in 9.3 seconds, had earned him the nickname of “world’s fastest human.”
Patton, a force on the track, certainly didn’t look it to his opponents – or even his teammates. “At 23, Mel Patton looks fragile enough to be bowled over by the smell of locker-room sweat. … In the chow-line last week, a husky teammate yelled at him: ”Step aside and let us weight-men in. No fuss, now—you’re the one man around here I can lick,” said TIME’s cover story at the time.