Barnes Sets Indoor Best Mark in Shotput at 74-4

Times Staff Writer

Last week, after a meet at Jonesboro, Ark., shotputter Randy Barnes found himself at the wrong end of a semi-automatic rifle held by an alleged drunk in a hotel parking lot. This week, after arriving in Los Angeles, Barnes was jolted out of bed by an earthquake. Some people thought it was just him practicing.

This guy never knew the indoor track and field season could be so much fun.

Barnes, 22, caused a rumble of his own Friday night at the Sports Arena before a crowd of 10,004 in the Sunkist Invitational. It may not have registered on the Richter scale. But officials measured the fifth and last of his throws at 74 feet, 4 inches, a world indoor best mark and the ninth best throw of all time, indoors or outdoors.


The previous world indoor best was held by Switzerland’s Werner Guenthor at 73-0 1/2.

Barnes’ record, naturally, is an American indoor best. But it might also count as an American record, period. The only American ever to throw farther is Brian Oldfield, but his 75-0 doesn’t count as a record because the performance came while he was a professional.

After Barnes’ throw, the shot was impounded by officials of The Athletics Congress, which governs the sport in the United States. It will be measured to determine whether it meets size specifications for record consideration. Even though they both weigh 16 pounds, indoor shots usually are larger in circumference than outdoor shots.

That was the only world best set in this meet, but there were some other competitive events. Two-time Olympic champion Roger Kingdom beat Greg Foster in the 55-meter high hurdles, avenging a loss last Saturday at Dallas, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, in her first sprint ever, won the women’s 60-yard dash. Evelyn Ashford didn’t run because of the flu.

In an upset, Doug Padilla won the 3,000 meters in a meet-record 7:57.02. Or at least it would have been considered an upset if the Olympic steeplechase champion, Kenya’s Julius Kariuki, had been in any kind of shape at all. He failed to finish. Or at least that was the official word.

“I think he’s still running,” meet promoter Al Franken said.

Franken had a right to be chagrined, considering that he consented to renegotiate Kariuki’s appearance fee, upward, of course, earlier this week.


Steve Scott proved that he wasn’t ready to relinquish his title as the United States’ best miler, at least not on this night. He won in 4:00.80, holding off 2 runners who are supposed to be the event’s future in this country, Olympian Jeff Atkinson and NCAA champion Joe Falcon of Arkansas.

Even if Barnes had decided to sit out the last throw, he wouldn’t have had a bad night. He had three other throws over 70 feet. The second-place finisher, Jim Doehring of San Clemente, had a best of 64-10.

“I knew the record was very attainable,” said Barnes, who had the second- best throw (71-10) ever by an American in the Dallas Morning News Games last Saturday at Dallas, despite the incident early that morning in Jonesboro. The rifle wasn’t loaded, but the man and his companion still were arrested.

“I knew that if I didn’t get the record, somebody else would. I don’t want to spend my entire career on the heels of somebody else. I wanted a world record sometime in my career.”

Barnes, who lives in College Station, Tex., said the record means more to him than an Olympic gold medal would have. Going into the last round last summer at Seoul, Barnes was leading. But East Germany’s Ulf Timmermann won with a clutch throw. Barnes finished second.

“That gave me a title, silver medalist,” Barnes said. “I needed that. I was tired of being considered this young kid with so much potential. But this is even more special. Breaking a world record means that you’ve done something that nobody has done before. They give Olympic medals every 4 years.”

MEN’S 55-METER HURDLES--Through the first four hurdles, it looked as if Foster might win for the second time this indoor season against Kingdom.

But the fifth and last hurdle proved too much for Foster.

Kingdom won in 6.98 seconds to Foster’s 7.02. Tonie Campbell, bronze medalist at Seoul, was third in 7.13.

For the second straight week, Foster false-started and had to sit in the blocks on the second start or risk disqualification. And just like last Saturday at Dallas, he was able to catch Kingdom.

They were even through the fourth hurdle, which they both scraped. But then Foster collided with the fifth hurdle.

Even though he was relieved to win, Kingdom didn’t feel as if he has gained an advantage over Foster, a two-time world champion who didn’t qualify for the Olympic team last year because of a broken arm. They are scheduled to meet several more times this season.

“I don’t care how many races you win,” Kingdom said. “You still have doubts. I didn’t erase them tonight. I still didn’t run a clean race.”

Foster said he has to work on his start.

WOMEN’S 60-YARD DASH--Joyner-Kersee was invited to Friday’s inauguration, but she didn’t attend. Nothing personal against George Bush. She just said that she is tired of traveling.

That turned out to be a wise decision. Ashford, who was supposed to run against Joyner-Kersee, went to the Inauguration Gala Thursday night in Washington and came home with the flu. She attended the meet but wasn’t able to run.

Still, Joyner-Kersee, competing in a sprint for the first time since she used to challenge her brother, Al, outside their house in East St. Louis, Ill., had to beat a good field. Also entered were Olympians Gail Devers-Roberts, formerly of UCLA, and Juliet Cuthbert of Jamaica.

Even though she didn’t get a sprinter’s start, standing almost straight up out of the blocks, Joyner-Kersee won in 6.68, just off Ashford’s meet record of 6.66. Devers-Roberts was second in 6.76 and Cuthbert third in 6.81.

“I felt like a big old Clydesdale out there,” said Joyner-Kersee, who is sprinting so that she can improve her speed for the long jump. “I’m too big to be in the sprints.”

MEN’S 60-YARD DASH--Emmit King won in 6.15 to Brian Bridgewater’s 6.27. But the most interesting aspect of the race was former high school sensation Houston McTear’s comeback after 4 years away from the sport. He finished fourth in 6.49.

He said he didn’t feel too badly except that he would have liked to have gotten a better start. He had to stay in the blocks after false-starting once.

“They took my start away from me,” he said. “That’s one thing I can still do. I can still react to the gun.”


All-time best performers in the shotput. * denotes Oldfield’s mark does not count as an American record because he performed it as a professional.

Athlete, Country Distance Ulf Timmermann, East Germany 75-8 Alessandro Andrei, Italy 75-2 *Brian Oldfield, USA 75-0 Werner Guenthor, Switzerland 74-7 3/4 Randy Barnes, USA 74-4