Greg Foster, who needs no gifts in the 110-meter hurdles, has nevertheless benefitted considerably from his competitors' misfortunes this year.
First, Renaldo Nehemiah, the world-record holder who is attempting a comeback, injured his knee and has been unable to run since January.
Then Roger Kingdom, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist, withdrew from the USA/Mobil track and field championships this week at San Jose City College because of an illness in the family.
Left to challenge Foster were Tonie Campbell, who had the fastest time in the world this year, and Rod Woodson, who had the second-fastest time and recently beat Campbell.
But Woodson was eliminated when he fell in Thursday's semifinals. Campbell met a similar fate in Friday's finals, losing his balance when he hit the eighth of 10 hurdles and stumbling across the finish line in seventh place.
Foster won easily in a wind-aided 13.29 seconds to earn a berth on the U.S. team at the World Championships this summer at Rome, where he will attempt to defend the championship he won in 1983 at Helsinki.
Also representing the United States in Rome will be Cletus Clark of Houston, second in 13.48, and Jack Pierce of Woodbury, N.J., third in 13.56.
"The World Championships probably will be the easiest race I'll have all year because Tonie won't be there," said Foster, who lives in Long Beach and trains at UCLA. "He's the most consistent guy I have to run against.
"I'm really disappointed for him. If I had to pick anyone I wanted to be on the team with me, it would be him."
Campbell, who coaches hurdlers at UC Irvine, said he was disappointed that he wouldn't be able to add the outdoor world championship to the indoor world championship he won last winter in Indianapolis. Ironically, he won there in a race in which Foster fell.
"The bottom line is that I wasn't satisfied to take second," Campbell said. "I was in second place, and I was comfortable. But instead of watching my own race, I looked over at Greg and got a little greedy.
"I was watching Greg's rhythm, and I tried to increase mine. I think that was my big mistake. Instead of coming in second, I wanted to win."
Campbell may have lost the race even before it began. After his first false start, he had to be cautious on the second start or risk disqualification. That allowed Foster to beat him out of the blocks.
"It would have been a different race if I hadn't had the false start," Campbell said. "I would have been standing here with a big smile on my face instead of a painted-on smile. I'm hurting inside."
Evelyn Ashford has lost races before, but seldom has she been outclassed like she was in the 200-meter final Friday.
Never a factor, she finished fifth in a hand-timed 21.9 seconds. Pam Marshall, the defending national champion in the 100 and 200 who trains with the Los Angeles Track Club, won in 21.6.
The next three finishers, Florence Griffith of Los Angeles, Grace Jackson and Juliet Cuthbert, all were timed in 21.7.
But Ashford, scheduled to run in the 100 today, will join Marshall and Griffith on the U.S. team at the world championships as the third American in the 200 because Jackson and Cuthbert compete for Jamaica.
For only the second time in 15 years, high jumper Dwight Stones has failed to make a U.S. national team.
Stones, 33, a veteran of the 1972, 1976 and 1984 Olympic teams and the 1983 world championship team, didn't qualify Friday for today's finals. He cleared 7 feet 1 1/2 inches but missed three times at 7-3.
The only other time he has been left off a U.S. team was in 1980, when he finished 10th in the Olympic trials. But it was irrelevant because the United States didn't participate in the Olympics.
Stones didn't appear too disappointed after his elimination Friday, lounging in a beach chair on the field as he watched the rest of the competition.
Only one month after returning from an 18-month suspension for a positive steroid test, Duncan Atwood won the javelin competition Friday with a throw of 271 feet 5 inches. Tom Petranoff was second at 261-10.
"I modified my training while I was out of competition," Atwood said. "I had planned to take '86 off anyway, but not quite in the fashion I did."
Asked about drug testing, he said he suspects athletes are becoming more sophisticated about beating it.
"I think drug testing is great, but I don't know how well it works," he said. "A lot of people are learning their washout times. That's what I've been hearing, but I'm no scientist."
Besides Tonie Campbell and Dwight Stones, other 1984 Olympians who aren't going to the world championships include Benita Brown, Kirk Baptiste and Thomas Jefferson. Brown, the gold medalist in the 100-meter hurdles, finished fifth Friday. Baptiste, second to Carl Lewis in the 200 at Los Angeles, was eighth in a field of eight Friday, while Jefferson, third in the Olympic 200, was fifth. UCLA's Henry Thomas finished seventh in the 200 Friday, just ahead of Baptiste.
There are 22 finals today. The main events figure to be the men's open 400 meters, in which the field includes Ohio State's Butch Reynolds, UCLA's Danny Everett, Arkansas' Roddie Haley and Olympic bronze medalist Antonio McKay, and the men's 400-meter intermediate hurdles, the rematch between Edwin Moses and Danny Harris. UCLA's Kevin Young figures to run third in that hurdles race. He ran a personal record 48.75 while finishing second to Moses in Friday's semifinals.
The 12.80 that LaVonna Martin of Tennessee ran in winning the 100-meter hurdles Friday is the second-best ever by an American. . . . NCAA champion Sheila Hudson of California set an American record of 45-5 in winning the triple jump. USC's Wendy Brown was second at 44-4. Her Trojan teammate, Yvette Bates, was sixth at 41-11 1/2. . . . UCLA's Gail Devers failed to qualify for Friday's 200 finals, but she has another chance in today's 100. . . . Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who won the heptathlon Wednesday, returns for the long jump finals today.
Bill Donakowski earned a berth on the U.S. world championship team last fall at the Twin Cities marathon but relinquished his position because he doesn't like the course in Rome. The family, however, will be represented. His brother, Gerard Donakowski, won the 10,000 meters Friday in 28:25.10. Two of the favorites, Pat Porter and Bruce Bickford, finished fourth and fifth, respectively, and failed to qualify for the world championships. Another favorite, Mark Nenow, chose to bypass this meet so he can run Tuesday night in Stockholm. . . . Friday's attendance was 11,127.