Oh, yes, Slaney. When she set off at a world-record pace in the 3,000-meter final, it looked as if the whole world, led by Romania's Paula Ivan with the U.S.S.R.'s Tatyana Samolenko close behind, stuck right with her. "The idea was to run a faster race than anyone else was capable of," said Slaney. Indeed, her personal best of 8:25.83 had not been approached by Ivan or Samolenko. But the field was more capable than Slaney had suspected. "And," said Slaney, "I played right into their hands."
She did so by ripping her first nervous lap in 63 seconds, which would be fast even for a 1,500-meter race. By the midpoint of the 3,000, oxygen debt was working its leaden changes in her. When Slaney slowed, teammate Vicki Huber took over the pace, but there was no escaping Ivan and Samolenko, who ran away on the last turn and staged a magnificent homestretch duel, won by Samolenko, 8:26.53 to 8:27.15. Huber, in sixth, chopped more than nine seconds from her best with an 8:37.25.
Slaney, who was almost tripped when the pack swarmed past her, was 10th. While not as devastating as her fall in Los Angeles in 1984, this obviously was not the Olympic moment for which she has labored 19 years. "Well, here we go," said her husband, Richard. "Another four years."
Two legendary men were going for their third golds in a single event. Neither 400-meter hurdler Edwin Moses (see preceding story) nor Soviet hammer thrower Yuri Sedykh quite made it. Sedykh's 274'10" wasn't good enough to beat teammate Sergei Litvinov's 278'2", and Sedykh stoically accepted silver. Yuri Tamm completed a Soviet sweep, with 266'3".
There was another athlete who did succeed in an event where longevity is rare. Before Monday, only one man had won two high hurdles golds: Lee Calhoun of the U.S., in 1956 and '60. Now there is another. At Los Angeles, Roger Kingdom had dived past his teammate Greg Foster to win by .03, and with Foster out with a broken arm. Kingdom was heavily favored in Seoul. Then, at 6:00 a.m. on the day of the final, he awoke in the dark, terrified.
"I sensed something great or something terrible would happen today," he said. "No in-between. I'd strained my leg in the prelims. There are always accidents in the hurdles. I felt the pressure of a possible disaster. I called my mom. She settled me down."
At the gun, Kingdom sensed teammate Arthur Blake, in the lane next to him, leave the line early. Yet there was no recall. The race was on. Blake would go on to hit the sixth hurdle so hard that he finished last.
Kingdom clobbered the sixth barrier too, but it had the opposite effect on him. "It seemed to tip me forward," he said later. "I gained momentum. I ran the fastest last four hurdles of my life and dug like mad for the finish."
He reached it in 12.98, an Olympic record, and won by an amazing three meters over Colin Jackson of Great Britain and Tonie Campbell of the U.S.
Winning transformed all the fear into ecstasy. Kingdom's high-kicking reaction was the most uninhibited display of an emotional week. Later, walking out of the stadium with Joy Shepard, who is his girlfriend and coach, his mom, Christine, and his agent, John Nubani, he was still pumped. "Yeah, this is done," he yelled. "I dealt with the pressure of doubt. I went through it light and laughing. And I ran the best I have all year."