Carl Lewis says that he is stronger and faster than he was last year when he won four gold medals at the L.A. Olympic Games.
It was evident Sunday at the Puma/Mt. San Antonio College Relays in Walnut as he ran the third fastest 100 meters of all time under any conditions with a clocking of 9.90 seconds.
Lewis had only one regret about the race. It was wind-aided at 2.5 meters per second, just over the allowable limit of 2.0.
Only William Snoddy with a time of 9.87 in 1978 and James Sanford with a 9.88 in 1980 have ever run faster. Snoddy was pushed along by a near gale-force wind, approximately 25 miles per hour. Sanford, the former USC sprinter, got his time in a dual meet with UCLA. The wind reading that day was only 2.3 meters per second.
Calvin Smith is the world record-holder at 9.93, a mark that was established in the high altitude of Colorado Springs in 1983.
Lewis also ran the third 400 leg for the Santa Monica Track Club in the 1,600-meter relay, the concluding event. He was in second place with a 20-meter deficit when he took the baton. He made up some ground with a creditable 45.4 time before handing off to Tonie Campbell, but Lewis’ team failed to win the event, finishing second to a team from the AccuSplit Track Club.
A crowd of 7,000 stayed to the end to watch pole vaulters Mike Tully and Brad Pursley attempt a height of 19 feet 1 1/2 inches, which would have been an American record.
Tully, the silver medalist in the Olympics, had only two attempts, going under the bar as his legs cramped on him. Pursley, the former Abilene Christian vaulter, made an excellent try on his third vault, just brushing the bar off the standard.
Tully won the competition with a height of 18-10 3/4, while Pursley was second at 18-8.
Tully is the American record-holder at 19-1. Sergei Bubka of the Soviet Union has the world record at 19-5 3/4.
Pursley and Tully missed the U.S. record, but Jud Logan of the New York Athletic Club established one in the hammer throw at 252-3. He broke the record of 251 feet set by Bill Green at a pre-Olympic meet here last July.
Logan didn’t win the event, though. Declan Hegarty won at 255-3 to set an Irish national record and Olympic champion Juha Tiainen of Finland was second at 254 feet.
As for the 100 meters, Lewis said that he ran an excellent race and was pleased with his start. It appeared, though, that he was left in the blocks as the entire field got off ahead of him.
Typically, Lewis caught and was moving past everybody at 60 meters and won in a breeze.
James Butler was second in 10.17, while veteran Harvey Glance, a former Olympian, was third in 10.19.
USC’s Darwin Cook, the Pacific 10 champion, who got a flying start, said he heard the crowd roar at about 60 meters. He knew instinctively that Lewis was coming.
“I flinched when I heard the crowd and my eyes started going to the left (toward Lewis’ lane),” Cook said, smiling. He finished fourth in 10.22.
Lewis had a false start and said that he might have been influenced by Glance, who was next to him, to move out quickly.
But he waited patiently for the gun after the re-start.
“That was my first false start in three or four years,” Lewis said. “I always wait for the gun.”
Lewis said that his goal this year is just to improve on all of his marks, 100, 200 and long jump.
“I’m a year older, and I feel that I’m stronger and faster,” said the 23-year-old Lewis. “I’ve also been training well.”
Lewis never predicts that he’ll set a world record, but he definitely felt that if the wind reading was a legal 2.0 m.p.s. he would have been under Smith’s 9.93 record.
Lewis will take another crack at the 100 record May 11 in a meet at Modesto. He recorded his best legal time there, a 9.97 in 1983.
As for Sunday’s race, Lewis said: “I’m running so much faster than the wind, I don’t see it (the wind) making much difference in my time.”
If Lewis had gotten a better start, he probably would have recorded a time in the 9.8 seconds range.
Lewis said that other sprinters are now changing their game plan on him, trying for blazing starts.
“That just makes me more confident that they have to change what they’re doing to beat me,” he said. “If I run consistently, I’ll get good times and not every race will be wind-aided.”
In winning the pole vault, Tully didn’t miss a height until the bar was raised to 19-1 1/2. He said that his legs cramped on him at that juncture, a problem he had while vaulting in last summer’s Olympic Games.
“It’s the same old problem,” he said. “I’ guess Im going to have to go to the doctor.”
Pursley said he might have jumped higher if he had been able to train the past two weeks. Inclement weather in Austin, Tex., made it impossible. “I’m ready to jump high,” he said. “I’m looking past 19-1. I don’t think 19-6 is out of the question.”
Other notable performances on a balmy, sunny day:
--Merlene Ottey-Page of Jamaica won the women’s 100 meters in 10.92. Only Evelyn Ashford (10.76), and East Germany’s Marlies Gohr (10.81) and Marita Koch (10.83) have ever run faster. It was one of the few sprint races that had a legal wind reading.
--Houston’s Kirk Baptiste, the Olympic silver medalist in the 200, was strong in the stretch as he won in the fine time of 20.04. But Baptiste was helped by a wind reading of 2.45 m.p.s.
--Tom Petranoff got off the best throw of the year in the javelin, winning at 295-9. Petranoff is the American record-holder at 327-2, but he finished a disappointing 10th in the Olympics. His throw Sunday would have easily won the gold medal.
--Willie Banks had a good early season effort in the triple jump, winning with a leap of 56-1 to break his own stadium record of 55-11.
--In the women’s 400-meter hurdles, one of the most competitive races of the day, Latayana Sheffield of San Diego State barely held off Sharrieffa Barksdale of the Puma Track club. Sheffield’s time was 56.73, one-hundredth of a second ahead of Barksdale.
--Gregg Tafralis of the Stars and Stripes Track Club upset Augie Wolf and John Brenner to win the shot put. Tarfralis’ winning throw was 69-2 3/4.
Other winners included Tranel Hawkins in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles with a time of 49.39; Cletus Clark in the 110-meter hurdles (13.48); Ray Armstead in the 400 (45.33) and Carol Lewis in the women’s long jump (22-8).
In an event held late Saturday night, Ed Eyestone of Brigham Young won the 10,000 meters in 27:41.05, the best mark ever recorded by an American collegian.