Even to Wysocki.
Her move hadn't been meant to defeat Decker, just to put some distance between
herself and Gallagher and the other fast finishers. But here she was, running
elbow to elbow with the world champion through the turn and into the stretch.
Not that she didn't have the instincts or experience for it. As Ruth Caldwell,
she had run down Decker to win the 1978 AAU 800, but she had been away from
intense racing for years, having returned to running only to pass the time
while her husband of a year, distance runner Tom Wysocki, was traveling.
"Did I have
any idea I might win?" she said later. "Absolutely none. I was halfway
down the straight before I thought I could get her." She drove ahead with
50 meters left. Decker dug down, evoking memories of her stretch run at the
world championships in Helsinki against Zamira Zaitseva of the Soviet Union
last summer, but she could go no faster. Wysocki won by a yard in 4:00.18. She
threw up her arms and thought, "What have I done?"
4:00.40, and learned all she needed to know. She will run only one
middle-distance race in the Olympics, but won't decide which event until later
in the summer.
Rare was the event
that didn't produce a new face, a Nordquist or Wysocki. In the pole vault, it
was Doug Lytle, 21, of Kansas State, who had attended the 1980 trials as a
photographer's assistant. Only Lytle and Mike Tully cleared 18'8�", and
Lytle was leading on fewer misses. Tully had struggled at the lower heights
because the officials had switched the direction of the vault to gain a
tailwind. "But now I have to look into the sun," said Tully. Twice he
missed badly at 18'4�" before collecting himself and clearing easily. By
the time he faced an American-record 19'3�", it was dark, and he made the
height on his second attempt. He had a miss at a world-record 19'3�" that
showed him he ought to think about trying it again in August.
Such thoughts are
out of order for Billy Olson, who has vaulted 19'�," indoors. He fell out
of the competition at 18'4�". By the trials' end, a splendid team could
have been made up of the also-rans.
The trials are
special for how they infuse the new team members with the Olympic fire. Watch
them as they walk back from the victory stand. They have accepted the praise of
the crowd, of the television people. Now, as they enter the narrow, brightly
lit tunnel that will take them outside the Coliseum to the waiting press, to
the drug tests, to families and coaches, it begins to sink in.
Their grins may be
fierce or dreamy, they may tremble or whoop or cry, but all share the
understanding that things will unfold differently now. Great chances remain,
opportunities that are now lost to all who were fourth or below. Until this
moment, their plans have been contingencies. Now a dazzlingly clear sense of
the future bursts in on them.
In no event is
that future richer than the men's 400-meter hurdles, in which Edwin Moses
attained his 89th consecutive victory with a 47.46 in the final. He did it
regally, from the eighth lane, where because of the stagger he saw no opponent
until he looked back after crossing the finish line.
Even Moses was
subject to Olympic trials nerves, false starting once and calling the field out
of the blocks a second time when he was distracted by a photographer shooting
before the start. But once in action, emancipated, he displayed the familiar
Moses form, his head nestled back between his high shoulders as if he needed to
look at the hurdles not at all, as if he were more interested in the hue of the
evening clouds over the rim of the stadium.
Moses's future is
a second Olympic gold medal. His reaction was blessed relief. "The sun
feels good again," he said. "Anything you've been told about the
pressure of this meet is nothing like actually being there."