It happens that Johnson had passed along training information to Florence. Last year, after he ran a 100 record of 9.83 at the World Championships in Rome, Al and Florence asked him what on earth he was doing to effect his remarkable improvement. He outlined his extensive lifting program.
"We believed it when Ben told us how he lifted weights," says Al. "We did it, believed in it, and it worked."
"If you want to run like a man, you have to train like a man," says Florence, "and weights are the main factor." She can do squats with 320 pounds on her shoulders.
That helped her bear up on Saturday, the last day of track competition. Because of her speed on the turn, Griffith Joyner ran the third leg on the U.S. 4 X 100 relay team. Leadoff runners Alice Brown and Sheila Echols presented her with a slight deficit, but she drew even with East Germany's Ingrid Lange as she neared the exchange with the U.S. anchor, Ashford. But, whoa, Ashford started late. Griffith Joyner nearly went past her, as if she were going to finish the race herself.
Ashford quickly recovered and closed on her old rival Göhr, and hung with the East German for 50 meters. Then she came on like the Ashford of 1984. She brought the U.S. home a meter in front, in 41.98.
Griffith Joyner, puffing hard, skipped the victory lap to report for the 4 X 400 relay. This was the happiest surprise of the meet, because although she was the 1983 NCAA 400 champion, Flo-Jo hadn't run the event in the trials.
U.S. coaches Terry Crawford and Fred Thompson had raised the possibility of her inclusion on the team only two days before, after the 200. "There was risk in it," said Crawford, "but there was the opportunity to make history here, with four gold medals for Florence and a world record for the team."
Still, the Soviets, running with 400 world champion Olga Bryzgina as anchor, had to be favored. The U.S. would have to stay close and then see what Griffith Joyner could do. "Don't pass on the turns," said Valerie Brisco, who would take the third leg, to Florence.
Denean Howard led off and not only stayed close to the U.S.S.R.'s Tatyana Ledovskaia, but also passed her in the stretch with a 49.8 leg. Then Diane Dixon's 49.1 was overhauled by Olga Nazarova's 47.9. Brisco received the baton seven meters down, but her 48.5 leg allowed her to hand the stick to Griffith Joyner only two meters back.
Florence fell in behind Bryzgina. "I felt I could go around her, but Terry Crawford had told me to just stay near until the stretch," she said. But Bryzgina, whose strength is her last 200, ran a perfectly judged race. When Griffith Joyner came into the home stretch three meters behind, she could not gain. Bryzgina slowed, and Griffith Joyner got a meter, but the race was running out. Bryzgina held those two meters. The times were 3:15.18 for the U.S.S.R. and 3:15.51 for the U.S. Both were under the world record of 3:15.92 set by East Germany in 1984.