Less than a week ago, the 24-year-old Juantorena met an American in the Olympic Village. The first thing he wanted to know was how strong the U.S. 400-meter runners were. Told that Maxie Parks and Fred Newhouse were very strong, the ex-sugarcane cutter shrugged his muscular shoulders, smiled and said, "It doesn't matter. The 800 won't tire me out for the 400. It will just keep me busy until it is time to run my race."
The 800 final started easily enough, with no one forcing an overly fast pace. Then down the first backstretch Juantorena, with Wohlhuter in close pursuit, picked up the tempo. Speeding along, the pair—the small, slight Wohlhuter and the towering Cuban—offered a startling contrast. On the final backstretch the Cuban poured it on, and Wohlhuter went with him. At that moment it appeared that Juantorena, the 400-meter runner, was playing into the hands of Wohlhuter, the pure 800 stylist. Surely the Cuban was expending his strength too soon. But as Wohlhuter came on to challenge as they turned into the final stretch, Juantorena held him off. Still, Wohlhuter came on, and for 50 meters he closed gradually. Then, his muscles tightening, his face contorted, Wohlhuter slowed and Juantorena won as he pleased in 1:43.50, breaking Marcello Fiasconaro's record by .2 of a second. Coming on the outside, Van Damme passed Wohlhuter, taking away the silver medal.
Wohlhuter, who had almost been disqualified the day before because he had bumped an opponent in his semifinal, said later that he had run as hard as he could, that he had no more to give. He finished in 1:44.12.
A third world record was set Sunday, an 11.01 by Annegret Richter of West Germany in a semifinal heat of the women's 100 meters. Richter came back to win the final in 11.08, followed by defending Olympic champ Renate Stecher ( East Germany) and former world-record holder Inge Helten ( West Germany).
That a fourth world mark was not set in the discus was a major frustration for Wilkins, whose winning throw was his second of six. His first, which he had hoped would be the big one, went only a skyscraping 202'8". "I wasn't very happy with that," he said. On his next one he hit the winner. Except for East Germany's Wolfgang Schmidt, there was no one in the field who could touch that.
"I thought my performance was mediocre," Wilkins said. "After my second throw, I kept trying to get the big one. I was at a point of all or nothing, and as it turned out, it was nothing. I should have thrown much farther. I was more prepared today than yesterday."
On Saturday in the preliminaries, Wilkins set an Olympic record of 224'. "I just wanted to give them something to sleep on," he said.
On Schmidt's last throw Sunday almost everything came together for him. The discus soared 217', just nosing out John Powell (215'6") of the U.S. for the silver medal. A moment later Wilkins rushed over and hoisted the happy East German high in the air.
"I was happy for him," Wilkins said. "I grabbed him because he came through with an excellent throw in a very tough situation. If Powell had made the throw, I would have done the same for him."
Nobody seemed to want to do anything for Wilkins when he arrived in Canada. His troubles began after the bearded free spirit and Shotputter Al Feuerbach opted for a private training base at Three Rivers, about 80 miles from the Olympic Village. Despite threats both veiled and overt, the pair delayed coming to the athletes' preserve in Montreal until last Wednesday, two days before the track and field events began.