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They Showed The Way In San Jose
Ralph Wiley
June 04, 1984
On the straight and hanging a left, Carl Lewis put the pedal to the medal as Brian Oldfield got off one humongous heave
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June 04, 1984

They Showed The Way In San Jose

On the straight and hanging a left, Carl Lewis put the pedal to the medal as Brian Oldfield got off one humongous heave

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"I got into my final running form after 30 meters. That's too soon against Lewis," said Brown while having his back adjusted by chiropractor Leroy Perry. "If you don't have acceleration after 60 meters with Carl, you've lost." Steve Williams, 30, the No. 1 sprinter in the world in the mid-'70s, ran both races Saturday (he finished sixth in the 100; seventh in the 200), and he agreed with Brown. "The 100 correlates with his event, which—I think—is still the long jump," said Williams. "Every world-class sprinter should be able to long-jump 25 feet. The 100 and long-jump combination is a mustering of forces. The 200 is more of a sustained thing, and even though Carl runs a good curve and has, well...just forget about mechanics, he has them down so well...he'll still find the 200 to be a little different."

As Lewis settled into his blocks, the crowd of 10,000 was still buzzing about what had been billed—appropriately, it turned out—as the Super Shotput. "We want to give the strength guys an arena and let them show off their form," said meet director Bert Bonanno. "The poorest guy out there throws sixty-nine two." Accordingly, Bonanno didn't use the usual spot for the shotput, the west end zone of the stadium's football field. Instead, he set up the landing area in the center of the field, marked it with silver helium balloons and ordered the release circle placed on the near sideline, right where the 50-yard line would be. Center stage.

Microphones were provided so the audience could hear the amplified grunts, yowls and screams of the competitors. Brian Oldfield, Dave Laut, Michael Carter and John Brenner responded with some stuff that Steven Spielberg could have used as voice-overs in particularly blood-curdling scenes from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, as well as six 70-foot throws.

It was the first time four men have thrown 70 feet in one competition. For Carter, the defensive tackle from SMU drafted in the fifth round by the San Francisco 49ers, this was his initial trip over 70 feet, but he could do no better than fourth, at 70'3". Brenner threw 70'10", Laut 70'9�". But it was the 38-year-old Oldfield who won the day, on his third put, booming out an American-record 72'9�" toss that fell just one inch short of the world record set by East Germany's Udo Beyer last June at a U.S.-East German dual meet in Los Angeles. Oldfield, who turns 39 on June 1, cannot compete in the Olympics, having lost his eligibility when he joined the professional International Track Association in 1973.

"Seventy feet can't be mundane, can it?" asked Laut. "I mean, some person asked me what went wrong, and I just went seventy ten."

Nor can any 200 with Lewis in it be considered ordinary. "What Carl has more than anything," said Williams as he headed off for Lane 2, "is the ability to get to the full-speed point and then put out even more energy. You have to think of that when you race against him."

Lewis lifted into high in the turn, making up the stagger on Quarrie while still in the curve, and came into the straightaway clearly in the lead. Probably because of that effort he was unable to find that extra energy. Williams had said the 200 was a little different. "You have to gain experience in it, like any other race," he said. And so 50 meters from the tape, a strange thing happened. Lewis stopped pulling away. Still, he won, in 20.01.

"It wasn't like winning at 100 meters, that's for sure," Lewis said afterward. Evans (20.29) had actually closed two meters on Lewis in the final 30 to come in second. Lewis had looked to his right—Quarrie's side—in the final 10 meters. He knew that he hadn't finished well, and he wanted to see if a 200-meter specialist had made up any ground. If he'd looked left, toward Evans, he would have seen that one had.

Still, Lewis was buoyed by his run. "I'm confident in the 200," he said. "I don't feel there's anyone who can run the turn with me. This is my last meet before the Olympic trials and I'm undefeated this year. I'm a better 200-meter runner than 100-meter runner. I think I can take control of any race, and I'm looking forward to some great performances."

The long jump was never mentioned. Ah yes, the long jump.

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