Washington's performance was perhaps a good omen that the U.S. could be returning to the kind of sprint supremacy it once took for granted. A 22-year-old from Flint, Mich., Washington plans to move to the West Coast soon for better tests of his considerable track talent and to further his career as a TV sportscaster. He has been talking away of late for WJIM, a CBS affiliate in East Lansing.
"I'm the fastest man in the world indoors," Washington said. "I'm just beginning to come outdoors. In order to be a really renowned world-class sprinter, I need the weather."
Weather of a different sort—Oregon's drear mixture of rain and fog and sog—was behind the meet's other outstanding performance, by Steve Prefontaine in the mile. He won it in 3:59.2, leading from wire to wire and holding off Italy's Gianni Del Buono and Marty Liquori on a frenetic last lap. It marked the 33rd consecutive lap on Los Angeles indoor tracks that Prefontaine has paced his opposition through two races, but the leading role is not all that endearing to the young Webfoot.
"It doesn't feel that good when you're ahead the whole way," Prefontaine said. "It's hard to run a mile when you're not a miler and to kick when you've led all the way." His last quarter was turned in 57.6 and he looked for the scoreboard clock as soon as he broke the thread at the finish line.
Steve Smith, for the ninth consecutive meet, won the pole vault, but his 17'6�" triumph came only after Kjell Isaksson forced him into a jump-off at that height. The Russian contingent got some solace out of the night when Vladimir Abramov, supposedly its second best high jumper, set a meet record at 7'2�", then missed three times at 7'5".
As for Borzov, he is looking for no misses in his next American meets, which is a matter that Washington should keep an eye on.