"When I grabbed that stick, I knew it was all over," said Ashford. She brought it home sweetly in 41.63, an American record and the second fastest time ever for the event. Göhr anchored the G.D.R. to a 42.09. Then Ashford went through such a paroxysm of joy, including leaping, throwing the baton and screaming, as to make one fear for her safety. "Imagine running that fast on that sponge of a track," she said. "And I didn't have to do the work. The rest of 'em just kicked butt."
Her language was not the most elegant, but her movement was. "This. This is what people come to track meets for," said Groves.
The combined score at the end of the day was 108-100 in favor of the U.S. "About as good as we could hope for," Groves would say 24 hours later. "How could we know that the luck of the draw had put all the spectacular events on the first day?"
But it had. The second day was not quite an anticlimax, simply an impressive display of the East Germans' competence. They'd made breakthroughs into American strengths on Saturday, especially with the victory of 18-year-old Thomas Schönlebe in the 400 at 45.2. Now they defended their own.
Antje Schroeder and 18-year-old Christine Wachtel ran down Robin Campbell off the last turn in the women's 800, Schroeder winning in 1:58.93 and the second-place Wachtel setting a world junior record of 1:59.40. "That hurt," said Groves.
It hurt more when Detlef Wagenknecht easily held off a sub-par David Patrick to win the men's 800 in 1:46.08. And when Wöckel edged ahead of Cheeseborough to win the women's 200 in 22.52.
An American-record hammer throw of 244'5" by Dave McKenzie only got him third behind Ralf Haber (259'3") and Roland Steuk (247'9"). Good high jumping by Dwight Stones and Leo Williams, who went 1-2 at 7'5", and superb hurdling by Greg Foster, who ripped to a 13.20 win, couldn't stem the blue tide. The final score was 197-181.
The whole G.D.R. team took a victory lap, sweeping along any Americans they could grab. That finished it well, ended it as the Olympics are ended, with frolic, with hand-holding after the inevitable exultation and despair of competition. As the athletes left, some with a last dip to touch the soft red track, it was clear that the Los Angeles Olympics had begun to breathe on their own.