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Merrell Noden
September 18, 1989
U.S. hurdlers David Patrick and Sandra Farmer-Patrick starred in soggy Barcelona
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September 18, 1989

A Dynamic Duo Reigns In Spain

U.S. hurdlers David Patrick and Sandra Farmer-Patrick starred in soggy Barcelona

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Barcelona's Olympic Stadium got its baptism last Friday night, but it wasn't the one the organizers of World Cup V had in mind. For two hours, rain came splashing down, driving many of the 46,000 spectators under the concrete upper deck and forcing the postponement of the women's high jump until the next night. As 400-meter hurdler Sandra Farmer-Patrick of the U.S. set her blocks on the puddled track for her race, she recalled the words of the American team's psychologist, Rick McGuire: "Expect the unexpected."

It was good advice in this unpredictable city, which will host the Summer Games in 1992. After the regimentation of Seoul, Barcelona's insouciance seemed refreshing, but also a bit alarming. Though plans for the renovation of the 60-year-old Olympic Stadium began in 1981, it was barely ready for the World Cup meet. The stadium reopened almost on time Friday evening. The great moment was delayed half an hour by the late arrival of King Juan Carlos.

In the first race of the night, the men's 400 hurdles, Farmer-Patrick's husband, David Patrick, 29, had won in 48.74. Now the pressure was on his wife. "I thought, David will kill me if I don't win," she said later. She had drawn Lane 2 with its tight turns, and the rain was now pelting down. In Lane 5 for the staggered start was Tatyana Ledovskaya of the Soviet Union, the Olympic silver medalist.

Ledovskaya went out hard, touching down off the third hurdle a full two strides ahead of Farmer-Patrick, who later said, "It looked like she was in Lane 8. That's how far ahead she was."

By the fifth hurdle, the 27-year-old Farmer-Patrick was making up ground. She flew around the final turn and caught Ledovskaya at the eighth hurdle. Over the last two barriers she opened up an amazing seven meters, and crossed the line in 53.84, a meet record by .60.

Because both of them had failed to qualify for last year's Olympics, the Patricks took an extra measure of satisfaction in becoming the first married couple to win golds in the same event at an international championship.

They were not the only athletes exorcising their frustration at having missed the Seoul Olympics. Ana Quirot had stayed home when her country, Cuba, boycotted those Games. Quirot, 26, has inherited the ambitiousness of her countryman Alberto Juantorena, who in 1976 became the only person to win an Olympic gold in both the 400 and 800 meters. Now president of the Cuban Athletics Federation, Juantorena urged Quirot, who was undefeated at 800 meters this year, to try the rarely attempted 400-800 double in Barcelona.

In the 800 on Saturday night, Sigrun Wodars, the Olympic champion from East Germany, strode to the front and sped through the first 400 in 55.07. Still, she could not shake Quirot. At the top of the final turn, Quirot moved to the tiring Wodars's shoulder.

She flew past Wodars into the straight and, in a display of magnificent unfaltering power, gained seven meters in the final 100 and crossed the line in 1:54.44, the third-fastest time ever run. Wodars was second, in 1:55.70.

Quirot got another, less satisfying win in Sunday's 400. Though she entered the homestretch with a one-meter lead, she was run down 50 meters from the finish by the lanky strides of the relatively unknown Marie-Jose Perec of France. For more than an hour the result stood: Perec first, in 50.30; Quirot second, in 50.60. But Perec was disqualified for running inside Quirot's lane on the final turn, and Quirot had her second title.

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