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Foster, in Some Pain, Equals World Mark in Hurdles

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

There is some doubt that Greg Foster’s world indoor record time of 7.36 seconds for the 60-meter hurdles will be accepted.

He established it in the Sunkist Invitational Jan. 16 at the L.A. Sports Arena. However, because of a mass false start that wasn’t recalled, the mark may be tainted, even though it was submitted as a record.

Foster isn’t losing any sleep over it, saying, “The easiest thing would be to do it again.”

The former UCLA star did the next best thing Sunday afternoon at the Michelob Invitational at the San Diego Sports Arena. He equaled the world record of 7.47 held by Canada’s Mark McKoy.

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This time probably won’t be questioned because the runners were locked into their blocks after two false starts.

“The false starts take away some of your explosion,” Foster said. “You need as much spring as possible in the hurdles.”

Foster, who came close to McKoy’s record with a time of 7.48 in The Times/GTE Indoor Games Friday night at the Forum, wasn’t sure he could compete Sunday when he went to bed Saturday night.

“I was skeptical about running because my right foot was extremely painful,” Foster said. “I was in bed by 8 o’clock.”

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Foster said that he has a collapsed arch, putting pressure on his instep. It’s an injury that has bothered him off and on since his freshman year at UCLA.

Nonetheless, the 28-year-old Foster has become a model of consistency this indoor season. He has won seven straight races with the prospect of two more wins in the U.S. national indoor championships Feb. 27 in New York and the first World Championships March 6-8 at Indianapolis. As for Sunday’s race, Foster was in control by the fourth hurdle and finished comfortably ahead of France’s Stephan Caristan, who had a time of 7.64.

Foster equaled a record and Johnny Gray came close to his world indoor record in the 1,000-yard run.

Gray was almost casual as he came toward the tape, looking around to see if anyone was ready to challenge him.

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Therefore, he was mildly surprised that his time of 2:04.8 was close to his world record of 2:04.39 that he set here last year and was the fourth fastest ever.

“I like to run out in front because I’m more relaxed,” Gray said. “Then, I check (look) at my competition to see if I have to go hard, or if I can ease up.

“I just hate pain. If I gutted it out like Eamonn Coghlan, I might be able to run 1:59. I even get butterflies before a race because I’m scared of the hurt.”

Other noteworthy achievements in the meet that attracted an announced crowd of 7,500:

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--In the pro football 50-meter dash, the Rams’ Ron Brown got a good start and beat Herschel Walker of the Dallas Cowboys. Brown’s time of 5.69 was faster than Harvey Glance’s winning time in the open dash. Walker equaled Glance’s time of 5.81.

--Spain’s Jose Abascal charged into the lead on the backstretch of the final lap to win the mile in 3:56.1. Steve Scott was second in 3:56.7, the first time this indoor season he has been under four minutes in the mile.

--Danny Harris, who is more renowned as a hurdler, won the 500-yard dash in 55.7, not threatening Lee Evans’ 16-year-old world record of 54.4. Gabriel Tiacoh of the Ivory Coast, who was No. 1 ranked in the 400 meters last year, was a late scratch from the race.

--Billy Olson, who had been inconsistent earlier in the indoor season, won the pole vault at 18-8 3/4 but didn’t come close to clearing 19-0 3/4.

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--Britain’s Kristy Wade was an impressive winner in the women’s mile in 4:26.1. She ran away from the field and only Mary Decker Slaney has run faster indoors.

Walker and Brown were both established sprinters before they joined the NFL. And, they’d like to compete again as “amateurs.” The International Amateur Athletic Assn. (IAAF) is expected to make a ruling on their status next month.

“I’ve heard that they (IAAF) will rule that certain individuals are eligible to compete and others aren’t,” Walker said. “That’s unjust and as much of a cause for a lawsuit as anything else.”

Hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah, who played for the San Francisco 49ers, was reinstated as an amateur but only after he assured track’s governing body that he would never play pro football again.

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Walker said he would like the opportunity to compete in track and field, but added, “My abilities lean more towards football.”

But the former Heisman Trophy winner from Georgia is still a legitimate sprinter. He won the 100-yard dash in the recent Superstars competition in the impressive time of 9.3 seconds.

Brown was wearing a cast on his left hand, while protecting a wrist that he broke last August in the Rams’ first exhibition game. It didn’t encumber him as a sprinter, though.

“I’d love to compete in the Olympics again,” said Brown, who was a member of a world record-breaking 400-meter relay team in the 1984 Olympic Games. “I think that vote in March will go in our favor.”

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Brown wasn’t surprised that his 50-meter time was faster than Glance’s and he’s confident he could be competitive against anyone on a regular basis on the indoor circuit.

“If we are reinstated, I could be running as early as the Mt. San Antonio meet in April, or the Pepsi meet in May,” Brown said. “But football is still my first priority. That’s what pays the bills.”

Brown said that he would like to put together a pro football sprint relay team composed of himself, Willie Gault (Chicago Bears), Darrell Green (Washington Redskins) and Walker.

“I don’t think many people could beat us” Brown said.

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