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Watch Out, Carl, They're Gaining On You
Bruce Anderson
February 10, 1986
In Dallas, Carl Lewis beat the wave of the future but lost to an old foe in the 60-yard dash
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February 10, 1986

Watch Out, Carl, They're Gaining On You

In Dallas, Carl Lewis beat the wave of the future but lost to an old foe in the 60-yard dash

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Carl Lewis took time out from his busy motion-picture and recording schedule last week to begin his two-meet indoor track season. He appeared on Saturday night at the Dallas Times Herald Invitational to start his indoor campaign with a 60-yard dash. He planned to end it a week later in the long jump at the Olympic Invitational meet. Lewis came to Dallas from Los Angeles, where he had spent two days filming a feature-length movie and a third working on his next album, in which he sings.

After such a hectic week, Lewis should have found refuge on the track in Dallas. Instead, just to his right in Lane 4, he found a guy ready to meet him in the, ah, Haircut 60, with an even stranger coiffure than Lewis's modified Grace Jones. Roy Martin, who is 6'1", knock-kneed, pigeon-toed and fueled by Ronald McDonald, had his black bristle cut scalp-close with a V on the back of his head. Martin is part of the best trio of sprinters ever to come out of one high school class. The other two, Henry Thomas and Joe DeLoach, were backing into the blocks in lanes 2 and 5, respectively.

Track & Field News recently asked an expert panel to predict the results of the 1987 World Championships, and the fearless forecasters tabbed Martin to win the 200, Thomas the 400 and DeLoach to finish second to Lewis in the 100. "All three could be [Olympic] gold medal winners," says Ralph White, Martin's sprint coach at SMU.

The crowd had come to Reunion Arena to see Martin. A cousin of former Cowboy defensive lineman Harvey Martin, he had attended Roosevelt High in Dallas, where he was the Track & Field News High School Athlete of the Year in 1984 and '85. Martin was also the fourth-place finisher in the 200 at the 1984 Olympic trials, missing out on a berth by .06 of a second.

SMU is not only close to Martin's home, it is close to a McDonald's. Apparently, Martin figures that to be fast you have to eat fast food. "I was a McDonald's boy," Martin says. "I still am...on the side. I used to have four or five a night. Me and Big Mac, we get along real good. I still see him, still talk to him a lot. I'll never leave him."

Part of White's job is to keep Martin from beefing up. Last summer, after eight straight days of burger binging, Martin carried 15 excess pounds to the National Sports Festival, where he finished third in the 200. White is also busy polishing Martin's technique. Despite best times of 10.18 in the 100 and 20.13 in the 200, Martin is not a pretty runner, as are DeLoach and Thomas, and his start is particularly poor. Still, Martin runs more fluidly these days than he did in junior high, when "a bunch of girls" nicknamed him Robot for his herky-jerky motion. And now, before every big meet, Lewis's hair apparent gets his head trimmed, each time with a different look.

Thomas and DeLoach aren't as coif-conscious, but they're every bit as fast. Thomas played football his freshman year at Hawthorne High near Los Angeles. "To dodge PE class, I went to the track," he says. Last summer, he ran a 45.09 400, the second-fastest ever by a high school runner.

"This man's a sprinter who can run the quarter," says John Smith, Thomas's coach at UCLA and the former world-record holder in the quarter mile. "Whatever [world] standards exist in the 100, 200 and 400, he has the potential to approach or surpass all those marks."

As for DeLoach, White says, "He may be the greatest talent in the country." DeLoach, now a freshman at Houston, frequently works out with Lewis. The pair first met three years ago at a meet when the young sprinter asked Lewis to autograph his heat sheet. Last year, Lewis visited DeLoach and his parents at their home in Bay City, Texas, and talked to them about Houston, his alma mater. The NCAA found out about the visit and termed it improper—no one but a coach can make an off-campus visit to a recruit. Initially, the NCAA said DeLoach couldn't compete for Houston; it recently relented after DeLoach appealed, and next year he will be eligible to run for the Cougars.

Lewis won his heat easily, in 6.21, a time much slower than the world-record 6.02 he ran in Dallas three years ago. Martin, showing an improved start, was next in 6.24. DeLoach was clocked in 6.25, while Thomas finished sixth and last in 6.39.

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