THE SEOUL GAMES / DAY 7 : Track Roundup : Joyner-Kersee Leads, but Is Off Record Pace

Times Staff Writer

After injuring her left knee Friday, Jackie Joyner-Kersee had unexpected difficulty through the first four events of the heptathlon at the Olympic Stadium.

But then more is expected of Joyner-Kersee than almost anyone else in the Olympic track and field competition.

Joyner-Kersee finished the day with 4,264 points, 103 points behind her world record pace. She had a 181-point lead over her closest rival, East Germany’s Sabine John.

Such is Joyner-Kersee’s edge over the rest of the world in the heptathlon that she virtually competes against her own standards. Still the only woman to score more than 7,000 points, she scored 7,215 points at the U.S. trials in July for her third world record since 1986.


She began the day as if she were going for another record, running 12.69 in the 100-meter hurdles. She has run faster, sharing the American record at 12.61, but never in a heptathlon.

But she jumped only 6-1 in the high jump, well below the 6-4 that she cleared at the trials. On an attempt at 6-2, she apparently aggravated a tendinitis condition in her left knee.

She rebounded in the shotput with a throw of 51-10, her second-best in a heptathlon.

In the final event of the day, the 200 meters, she ran 22.56, also not equal to her performance at the trials, where she ran 22.30.


The final three events, the long jump, the javelin throw and the 800 meters, are scheduled for Saturday.

“The knee gave me some problems and stiffened up a little bit,” Joyner-Kersee said. “But through the shotput competition, I could tell the tendon was going to loosen up and be OK.”

The final three events, the long jump, the javelin and the 800 meters, are scheduled for Saturday.

As expected, Carl Lewis and Canada’s Ben Johnson qualified for Saturday’s 100-meter semifinals. If they finish among the top four in their heats, they will advance to the final Saturday.


Johnson, the world record-holder, was not one of the two automatic qualifiers from his quarterfinal heat for the semifinals as he let up just before the finish line and was third in 10.17 behind Britain’s Linford Christie (10.11) and Dennis Mitchell (10.13). But Johnson’s time enabled him to advance.

Lewis won his quarterfinal heat in the day’s best time, 9.99.

Lewis, the defending Olympic 100 champion, complained Friday that the starter was firing his gun too quickly, claiming that would give the fast-starting Johnson an advantage.

Also critical of the organizers was Edwin Moses, the two-time gold medalist who qualified for Saturday’s second round by winning his 400-meter intermediate hurdles heat in 49.38.


One of the few surprises Friday occurred when Romania’s Maricica Puica, gold medalist in the 3,000 meters in Los Angeles, failed to advance beyond the first round. Running among the leaders, she limped off the track with about 200 meters remaining. She had run only once this year before Friday because of a stress fracture in her leg.

Puica won in 1984 after one of the other favorites, Mary Slaney, was involved in a collision with Zola Budd.

Slaney ran in the second heat Friday, qualifying for Sunday’s final by finishing fourth. She stumbled momentarily with a little more than 2 laps remaining, appearing to catch a spike on the track. She said later that one of the other runners caught her heel.

“It was scary,” she said. “It made me think about L.A. for a second.”


Running conservatively from then on, she finished behind Romania’s Paula Ivan, Britan’s Yvonne Murray and Canada’s Deborah Bowker. But Slaney managed to finish just ahead of the Soviet Union’s Tatiana Samolenko, the 1987 world champion.

Slaney said that she discovered that before she left her home in Eugene, Ore., that she was suffering from a low-grade infection but she said that she was treated with antibiotics and doesn’t believe it will affect her.