Namibia's Frank Fredericks started best but couldn't escape Christie, whose eyes grew into wild, hard dots. "Apart from Carl Lewis," Christie would say, "I think I've got the best second-half surge. So I used it." He ran away to glory, winning by half a meter in 9.96 over Fredericks (10.02) and Mitchell (10.04).
Burrell wasn't able to mount a charge. He had committed a false start in the U.S. trials and said then that it had killed his race. He had barely recovered to make the team. Now he had done it again, finishing fifth in 10.10, and didn't stick around to discuss it.
Mitchell, who didn't get the start he needed to control the race, still exulted in his bronze. "Hey, when I get home, people in Gainesville [Fla.] will want to bite this medal like it was real gold," he said.
When Mike Conley was at last able to kiss his own gold medal for the triple jump—eight years after taking silver in LA.—he was still trembling. On his final jump Monday he had slammed into the sand eight inches beyond Willie Banks's world record of 58'11½". Conley had leaped 59'7½", knew it, felt it, yelled it out and then turned to find it wouldn't count as a world record. The wind was 2.1 meters per second. The allowable is 2.0.
A nice cool wind would have helped the women marathoners on Saturday. No one knew what finishing the race with a three-mile grind up Montjuïc would do to the runners. No escalators for them. The evening was terrible for running, in the mid-80's and humid. The early pace seemed cautious, yet world champion Wanda Panfil of Poland would place only 23rd, and 1988 Olympic silver medalist Lisa Ondieki of Australia wouldn't finish.
Two great stayers, Valentina Yegorova of the Unified Team and Yuko Arimori of Japan, waged a slow, painful race, each trying to break the other when she sensed a hint of weakness or felt a blessed moment of strength. They were almost within the shadow of the stadium when the more muscular Yegorova forced herself to one last surge and drew away to win by a bare eight seconds, in 2:32.41. Neither runner could muster anything but a hollow grimace when it was finally over.
Behind them ran 37-year-old Lorraine Moller of New Zealand. Four days earlier her ex-husband, 1968 U.S. Olympic marathoner Ron Daws, had died of a heart attack. "The best I could do to remember Ron was to run as he taught me," said Moller. "He loved this kind of race. He always said the seconds you give up early you gain back in minutes in the end."
Moller had duly hung well back and then worked up to third before 20 miles. But she needed one more minute. "And there was no catching anybody," she said, "once you got to that hill."
She finished in 2:33:59, the bronze a worthy memorial to both a good teacher and a race wisely run. Moller's expression as she received it might have been that of almost all who strove upon Barcelona's Olympic mountain. She showed far less joy than blessed relief.