Now move aggressively at the sixth hurdle and you'll make the Olympic
nice," said Hawkins.
"Yeah, I got
Then he went out
and did it. "Before the start, everything goes through your mind," he
said, as if bemused. "I thought of what I ate that morning. Then I was
crouched there, arms shaking, the crowd quiet."
Then he was
running. Down the back-stretch he watched Harris in Lane 2 give the best chase
to Moses. "He hit the sixth hurdle and I made up some distance there,"
Hawkins said. "And more on the turn. We were even at the seventh hurdle. He
pulled ahead again at eight." Indeed, Harris was so strong he seemed to be
closing a little on Moses, four yards ahead.
Harris got second
in 48.11. Hawkins ran his third personal best in three days to finish third in
by an interminable virus, was fourth in 48.62. His was the first of many cases
in these trials of a great and seasoned runner not making the team. He slipped
off his shoes and tossed them into the infield. Harris stood facing the TV
replay on the scoreboard and simply, heartily cried. Hawkins walked in his new
world, letting his gangly frame tremble and dance. Salt was crusted on his lips
but that didn't stop his daybreak of a smile from spreading wide. "I didn't
think," he said quietly, wonderingly, "that it was this easy."
Lord, none of the
800-meter competitors said that. After two rounds, James Robinson, a two-time
Olympian and seven-time national champion, and Don Paige, like Robinson a
consummate kicker, looked to have things under control. But in the final, Earl
Jones, 19, a solemn, purposeful sophomore at Eastern Michigan, employed the
classic counter to their speed: He burned it out of them.