Pointing out that "sportswriters aren't paid on how many times they're right and wrong," Daily News sports editor Vic Ziegel says he stands behind Pepe. He adds, though, "Let's just hope that Phil doesn't predict we'll see peace in our time."
A PRACTICE JUMP TO REMEMBER
Competing at a meet on Aug. 11 in the provincial Ukrainian town of Donetsk, 6'7" Soviet high jumper Rudolf Povarnitsyn hoped to boost a seemingly stagnant career merely by topping his personal best of 7'5". But in heat that reached 113�, the 23-year-old flopper stunned officials, his coach, the crowd and himself by setting a world record of 7'10�".
Povarnitsyn had been an obscure figure in top-class Soviet sports. He was born in Udmurtia, an autonomous republic east of the Volga River near Kazan. He started out as a basketball player, but his height intrigued a local track coach, who convinced him to switch to high jumping. Povarnitsyn mastered the Fosbury Flop and joined the Dynamo sports club. He trained there and at other clubs over the next four years without distinction. In the last year, however, he improved by leaps, if not bounds, and was invited to join the prestigious Institute for Physical Culture in Kiev. "We worked with determination," says his coach, Vladimir Kiba. "The guy had a future."
But in Donetsk neither the coach nor anyone else expected what was to come. As the bar went up past 7'6" and then to 7'8�", Kiba got so excited he forgot what the European record was. "Go for the world," a fellow coach told him. So Kiba had the bar set to 7'10�", half an inch over the world mark set by China's Zhu Jianhua in 1984.
Povarnitsyn missed once, then a second time. "I was terribly excited," he said later. "Then I calmed down and told myself, 'Just imagine this is a practice jump.' " On his third and final attempt he skimmed over and the bar held. "I don't believe it," he said, shaking his head as he read and reread a winner's diploma that certified him as the world's best. And took the flop out of flopper.