Carl Lewis had decided not to long-jump, but he still held everyone's attention at the Bruce Jenner Michelob Light Classic last Saturday at San Jose ( Calif.) City College. All eyes focused on Lewis the sprinter as he stood with his sister, Carol, in the middle of the infield, well inside the aqua band of the Chevron 400-surfaced track, where the autograph hounds couldn't follow. Then the final call went out for the 200 meters.
"Is the 200 next?" asked Carl.
"Yes," said Carol.
"Is it really?" asked Carl.
"Yes," said Carol. "Lunching, eh?"
Carl Lewis didn't hear his sister's gentle reprimand, having already bounded off for the starting blocks. At last year's TAC championships, in one of the rare 200s of his career, Lewis had stunned the track world with a 19.75, only .03 off the world record Italy's Pietro Mennea had set in 1979 in the thin air of Mexico City. "That 19.75 opened my eyes," Lewis said. "Today will tell the tale."
Lewis plans to go for gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4 x 100-meter relay as well as the long jump in the Olympics, and the Jenner meet was a test of the notion that he's the finest sprinter in the world today. He had already won the 100 in 10.00, lifting into his matchless overdrive in the final 40 meters to beat Ron Brown (10.07) by a long stride. Brown is the Arizona State Wildcat turned Los Angeles Ram and the last man to beat Lewis at that distance, at this same meet last year.
In the 200 Lewis was in Lane 4, sandwiched between Dwayne Evans, the 1976 Olympic bronze medalist at that distance, and Don Quarrie of Jamaica, the '76 gold medalist. James Butler, a fine turn runner, was in Lane 7. Carol Lewis explained her brother's mission. "In that 19.75 at the TACs," she said, "he didn't know how fast he was going. Everyone got on him because he lifted his arms and celebrated so early. He knows he could've broken the record. He wants to go under 20 today."
Lewis slanted his starting blocks to his liking, removed his warmups and shook himself out. He planned to pace himself off Quarrie, try to run the first 100 in about 10.2, then see what he had after that. "If I come out of the turn on top," he said, "well...people are somewhat intimidated by my finish."
That had been the case with Brown in the 100. The day before the race, he'd said he wanted to prove he was the world's fastest human. He powered out of the blocks, intent on giving Lewis too much ground to make up in the final 50 meters, where, as he and Calvin Smith (the world-record holder at 9.93, who didn't run) and Mel Lattany (who did) know, Lewis is the master. But Lewis started well, too, and Brown had only a slight lead at 40 meters. Then Lewis lifted into that zone that leaves other sprinters in awe, and won with relative ease.