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The women's 200 was memorable, too, for America's Florence Griffith, noted habitué of Gucci's, running the prelims in a hooded, starred-and-striped skin suit, flashier than any worn by speed skaters. Having made her fashion statement, she stripped it off for the final and got the silver in 21.96.
Three days later Griffith ran a scorching third leg on the women's 4 X 100-meter relay, which put the U.S. out of reach of an East German team running without Drechsler. Alice Brown, Diane Williams, Griffith and Pam Marshall whipped the stick around in a meet-record 41.58. It was only a few minutes before Al Joyner, Jackie's brother and the 1984 Olympic triple jump champion, was wearing Griffith's relay gold. Thus we learned they are betrothed.
The women's long jump began in light rain. After two rounds, Joyner-Kersee led with a leap of 23'4½". On her third jump she reached great height and landed about a foot beyond her earlier mark—but the electronic sensors in the takeoff board flashed that she'd fouled. The crowd whistled, disbelieving. Then the giant TV replay screens showed an irrefutable quarter of an inch of daylight between her toe and the foul line. The whistles became howls. The officials reversed themselves. The imprint of her landing, which had not been raked from the sand, was measured. She had gone 24'1¾".
Drechsler took the runway like an aroused Valkyrie, her eyes on fire. She pounded through her run but attained far less height than Joyner-Kersee and reached only 23'4¾". Walking back, brushing off the wet sand, Drechsler knew it was over. The pain behind her left knee, which she had been concealing, had become worse. On her next jump she could only run through the pit. She passed her last two jumps, and Joyner-Kersee had her second gold medal in the event that means the most to her.
On the victory stand, the two preeminent women track and field athletes of the day shared a long embrace, after which Drechsler tenderly rearranged her rival's hair. They both knew that the wreckage competitors cause each other is unavoidable. "I've been in her situation," said Joyner-Kersee, "and the athlete who beat me when I was hurt was happy. So I'm happy."
"It's amazing to me that Jackie can be in the heptathlon and still be so good in the long jump," said Drechsler later, and then she allowed the possibility of an even more sustained battle between them. "I'd like to do a heptathlon once just to see how I would fare. But my family would kill me."
The meet that swirled on around Joyner-Kersee and Drechsler was restless, shifting. Dynasties trembled and new orders rose, all with fine disregard for the infuriating officiating.
Two-time Olympic decathlon champion Daley Thompson of Great Britain, unable to shake off the effects of a groin injury, finished ninth behind the 8,680 points of East Germany's Torsten Voss. "He could have dropped out under some pretext," Voss said of Thompson, who joined the brotherhood of his sport more firmly with this loss than he had with any previous victory, "but he stayed to the bitter end."
Thompson's countryman, mile world-record holder Steve Cram, experienced his own bitter end, which was equally unexpected. He reached the last 200 of an erratically paced 1,500-meter final with rubber legs and saw the future sweep past in the person of Somalia's Abdi Bile, the 1987 NCAA champion from George Mason University.
Bile's victory underscored a remarkable return to prominence by the runners of East Africa. Kenya's Paul Kipkoech won the 10,000. Kenya's Billy Konchellah, who went to Mission Viejo High School in California for a year, won the 800 in a blazing 1:43.06. And, finally, Kenya's Douglas Wakiihuru, who lives in Japan and trains with Boston Marathon champion Toshihiko Seko, left Djibouti's Ahmed Salah on the cobblestones of St. Peter's Square and ran on to win the marathon in 2:11:48.