Behind him Lewis and Everett were running strongly—and being left as if in wet cement. Lewis would slow, thunderstruck, before the line, and Everett would pass him, 44.20 to 44.26.
Nine meters ahead of them, almost all of that margin gained in the last 100, Reynolds somehow sensed exactly where to lean, scraping off an extra couple of hundredths, and he was done, transformed into queasy gelatin, easing into the arms of his brother.
"It's mine!" said Reynolds a few minutes later when he could speak. "No altitude, no wind, no stipulations. It's all mine."
And shall be for the foreseeable future. His time was 43.29. Where Reynolds had hoped to find .07, he had found .57. It was as if he had beaten Evans by a full five meters.
He and Jeff took a victory lap, and the crowd sang and swayed and grew giddy with the man and the occasion and the shock. The next events went on practically unnoticed in the buzzing clamor. U.S. shot-putter Randy Barnes threw 73'6¾". Paula Ivan of Romania ran the year's fastest women's 1,500, 3:56.22, and Johnny Gray almost broke his American record in the 800 with 1:42.65, but the applause for them was light, distracted. "Twenty years." people said.
"It's lasted 20 years until tonight." It took the richest footrace in history to concentrate the mind again. Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis were about to duel at 100 meters for the first time since Johnson beat Lewis and set the world record of 9.83 last Aug. 30 in Rome. And even they were wild about Harry. "Butch's race was electrifying," said Lewis. "I tried to channel the energy."
The channels of money both camps required to indulge in this rematch were, by track standards, cascades. The top appearance fee usually necessary to retain a highly sought athlete is about $25,000. Lewis and Johnson had other ideas. Earlier this year they authorized promoters to hunt up sponsorship for some match races. "We gave Heritage Sports [a Virginia-based agency] a short-term option to generate funds above a certain minimum," said Lewis's manager, Joe Douglas. "That minimum was $250,000 per race, per individual."
The response to the idea of paying two men $50,000 a second was ringing silence. Running majestically, Lewis won the U.S. trials 100 in a wind-aided 9.78; Johnson pulled a hamstring in May and was hiding out on the island of St. Kitts while his doctor feuded with his coach over what had caused the hamstring pull and what to do about it. No race offers were forthcoming.
Then Johnson, employing Berkeley physiotherapist Jack Scott—who also treats Lewis—staged a dramatic comeback on Aug. 6 and won the Canadian trials in a wind-aided 9.90.
The wheels began to turn. Japanese firms expressed interest in a race in Tokyo after the Olympics. And Brugger wanted a match right away in Zurich. He found the extra money by offering each of the 31 countries that were taking the television feed from the meet the chance to kick in a premium to get Lewis and Johnson together at last.