Joyner-Kersee Steals Show From Relay
The U.S. men’s 1,600-meter relay team broke a five-year-old world record Wednesday, then was outdone by Jackie Joyner-Kersee in a stirring finish to her last heptathlon.
Joyner-Kersee, who is ending her athletic career Saturday with a long jump competition in a meet near her home in St. Louis, entered the final event of the four-day Goodwill Games track and field competition, the heptathlon 800 meters, with a 46-point lead over fellow American Dedee Nathan.
But Joyner-Kersee, who hadn’t run the 800 meters in under 2 minutes 20 seconds since 1993, figured to have a difficult time staying within the 3.4 seconds of Nathan required for the victory.
Joyner-Kersee, however, carried out her strategy of remaining on Nathan’s heels, finishing in 2:17.61 for a seven-event total of 6,502 points, the highest score in the world this year. Nathan, who ran the 800 meters in 2:16.01, finished 23 points behind.
“My legs were feeling heavy,” Joyner-Kersee said, “but I told myself, ‘You got to dig down deep and go for it.’ ”
In the next-to-last event, the U.S. relay team of Jerome Young, Antonio Pettigrew, Tyree Washington and Michael Johnson set the only world record of the meet at the Nassau County Mitchel Athletic Complex, running the four laps in 2:54.20.
The previous world record was 2:54.29, set by the U.S. team of Andrew Valmon, Quincy Watts, Butch Reynolds and Johnson in the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
“I wasn’t about to let the guys down after the three great legs before me,” said Johnson, who reestablished his superiority in the 400 meters the night before by running the world’s fastest time, 43.76. “I didn’t want their effort to go to waste.”
The latest record was unexpected because there seemed to be no team in the race to push the Americans. Runner-up Poland ran 2:58.0 to break its national record by almost two seconds and still finished several meters behind.