WORLD TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUNDUP : Johnson Dominates 200 Meters Despite Wind
Michael Johnson of the United States dominated the 200 meters Tuesday night at track and field’s World Championships as no one has in a major competition since Jesse Owens in 1936, and if he had not been running into a 3.4 meters-per-second head wind, he might have set a world record.
His time of 20.01 seconds was the fastest in the world this year and a meet record, but the most impressive statistic from the race was his margin over runner-up Frankie Fredericks of Namibia and Brigham Young, whose time was 20.34. Canada’s Atlee Mahorn, formerly of the University of California, was third in 20.49.
Owens was the last man before Johnson to win the 200 at either an Olympics or World Championships by more than three meters.
“If not for the wind, Fredericks would have had an incredible time, and Atlee would have had an incredible time, and I would have had a world record,” said Johnson, who trains in Waco, Tex.
Track and field experts speculated that Johnson would have threatened the world record of 19.72 set by Italy’s Pietro Mennea in 1979 if there had been no wind.
The fourth day of competition was an advertisement for the NCAA. Among the products of U.S. colleges running in Tuesday’s finals were six in the women’s 100 meters, five in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, five in the women’s 400 meters and four in the men’s 200 meters.
Zambia’s Samuel Matete, the NCAA champion from Auburn, won the 400-meter hurdles. The United States, primarily because of the dominance of Edwin Moses, won the event at every major championship between 1976 and 1988. But the United States was shut out of the medals Tuesday. Kevin Young, formerly of UCLA, finished fourth, and favorite Danny Harris of Perris, Calif., was fifth.
Kris Akabusi gave Great Britain its first medal by finishing third in the intermediate hurdles. That did not compensate for the bad luck the British have had, including Tuesday morning’s announcement that one of the favorites in the 110-meter high hurdles, Colin Jackson, had withdrawn because of a back injury.
In the women’s 400, Sandra Myers, a native of Kansas who attended three Southern California universities before moving to Spain and becoming a citizen of that country, finished third. France’s Marie-Josee Perec won in 49.13. Germany’s Grit Breuer was second.
Retaining his title in the 800 meters with a time of 1:43.99 was Billy Konchellah, who won four years ago at Rome and then virtually disappeared from the international scene because of complications created by asthma.
Konchellah, who spent his final year of high school in Mission Viejo and had lived off and on in the Southland ever since, recently moved to Albuquerque, N.M.
“I was fooling myself to stay in Los Angeles,” Konchellah, 29, said. “I needed to move some place where the air is clean.”
Allergic to dust, Konchellah doesn’t allow shoes to be worn in his house, which is one reason he said he feels comfortable in Tokyo.