Lewis Still the Fastest of Them All : He Wins 100 in Wind-Aided 9.91 at U.S. Championships
Carl Lewis dabbles in songwriting, among other things, when he isn’t re-establishing himself as, perhaps, the world’s greatest track and field performer.
He had a verse prepared for the media Friday night at the USA/Mobil national outdoor track and field championships at Hayward Field.
“These old bones are still running young,” Lewis said while smiling.
His “old bones” are only a month short of 25. Even so, younger athletes couldn’t keep up with him.
Lewis won the 100 meters in a fast, wind-aided 9.91 seconds. Then, after only a brief rest, he came back to win the long jump at 28 feet 5 1/2 inches in stirring competition with Mike Conley and Larry Myricks.
So, if there was any question that Lewis might be past his peak as an athlete after earlier losses in the 100, it was dispelled on a warm, clear evening in the Willamette Valley.
Lewis is expected to win, and so is sprinter Evelyn Ashford, the women’s world record-holder at 10.76. But Ashford was upset by Pam Marshall in another fast 100 meters.
Marshall, who was not previously regarded as a premier sprinter, caught Alice Brown and Ashford in the last 15 meters, winning in the wind-aided time of 10.80.
Brown was second in 10.84, while Ashford, who has dominated America’s best women sprinters for many years, was third in 10.85. It was probably the fastest women’s 100 run under any conditions, and Marshall’s winning time was the fifth fastest, helped along by the breeze.
Lewis said he has always responded to challenges.
“When I started out, it was said I couldn’t do both the 100 and long jump,” he said. “Then, it was said that I couldn’t win four gold medals in the Olympic Games, which I did. Then, it was said that I couldn’t run with young guys.”
No one was quite sure whether anyone has ever insinuated that Lewis was over the hill. In any event, he was impressive in a meet that he had pointed for all season.
The start is Lewis’ weakest part of the 100, and others got out ahead of him. But Lewis caught Lee McRae at the 70-meter mark and surged on to win by about a meter.
His 9.91 time equaled the fourth fastest under any conditions. The wind reading was 4.48 meters per second, over the allowable of 2.0 m.p.s. for record purposes.
Calvin Smith, who was disqualified in a semifinal heat for two false starts, is the world record-holder at 9.93 seconds.
“All of the sprinters want to get out ahead of me,” Lewis said. “I don’t want to beat everybody out of the blocks, but I’m unstoppable at the finish.”
After Lewis won the 100, he took a victory lap, bowing grandly to the crowd. Then, he held up a finger designating that he’s still No. 1.
The long jump competition had already started, so Lewis was at the pit less than 15 minutes after he had won the 100.
He just ran through the pit on his first attempt.
“I didn’t realize it, but I was still fatigued after the 100 and the victory lap,” Lewis said. “The long jump is different from the 100. You have to relax and have patience to get into the flow.”
Lewis got into his rhythm on his third jump, leaping 27-4 3/4 to take over the lead. Then, he got into the 28-foot range for the first time this season on his fourth jump, sailing 28-5 1/2 with an aiding wind of 3.25 m.p.s.
That effort was enough to psychologically take care of his competition. But Myricks came back with a 27-9 1/2 jump, and Conley pressed Lewis by soaring 28-3 3/4.
No one, however, could improve, and Lewis scored his 48th straight victory in the event. He hasn’t been beaten since 1981.
Conley, who is also a skilled triple jumper, has been past the 28-foot barrier before with aiding winds. He wasn’t about to back off from Lewis.
“When you come to jump against Carl, you have to be prepared to go 28 feet,” Conley said. “You can’t just ooh and aah because he jumps 28 feet.”
Then, Conley spread his fingers a few inches apart and grinned.
“That’s only two inches,” he said. “Some day, he’s going to be two inches shorter and I’m going to be two inches farther. I know I can do it.”
For the present, at least, Lewis is still track and field’s superman. He’ll try to be a triple winner today when he goes after the 200-meter title.
“I relaxed most of the year, but I was preparing myself for the big meets,” he said, “and I wasn’t afraid to lose while I was dabbling.”
Dabbling for Lewis was voice lessons, songwriting and acting.
There were other creditable performances on the second day of the national championships, namely:
--Greg Foster took early command of the 110-meter high hurdles race to win convincingly in 13.26 seconds.
Tonie Campbell and Al Joyner both crashed into hurdles and fell while straining to catch up with Foster.
Foster had complained of a strained hamstring muscle in qualifying races Thursday.
“I had kind of a pep talk from my coach (Bob Kersee),” Foster said with a tinge of sarcasm. “I was told to get out there and tear it (the hamstring), or make it.”
--USC’s Wendy Brown won the women’s triple jump with a world’s best mark of 45-2 1/2 under any conditions. She had an aiding wind of 2.73 m.p.s.
The women’s event isn’t officially recognized by the International Athletic Assn. Federation (IAAF). And Brown can’t even go to the Goodwill Games in Moscow, starting July 5--as other American winners will--because the triple jump isn’t on the program.
“It bothers me that there aren’t any more meets for me to triple jump,” said Brown, a USC sophomore from Palo Alto, “but maybe I can find one somewhere.”
--John Brenner, the former UCLA star, won the shotput with a throw of 69-2 1/2, and Benita Fitzgerald-Brown won the women’s 100-meter hurdles in a wind-aided 12.83 seconds.
But the day, as usual, belonged to Lewis. Just like “old” times.
Track Notes UCLA’s Kevin Young advanced to today’s finals in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles by winning his semifinal heat in 49.03 seconds. Favored Danny Harris won the other semifinal in 48.93. Young’s UCLA teammate, Danny Everett, had a career best time of 45.10 in his semifinal heat of the 400 . . . Al Oerter, the four-time Olympic champion in the discus, is still going strong at age 49. He qualified for today’s discus final with a throw of 195-2 . . . Pam Marshall was ranked only fifth in the U.S. in the 100 last year . . . There have been only three faster, wind-aided times in the 100 other than Carl Lewis’ 9.91 effort: William Snoddy, 9.87; James Sanford, 9.88 and Lewis (9.90).