But there were
more new guys to watch. One, astonishingly, because he had been only 10th in
the NCAA 200, was Thomas ("My friends call me T.J.") Jefferson of Kent
State. Improving fast after a cold winter, he had "prayed all night
long" before this final.
Another was Roy
Martin Jr., 17, of Dallas's Roosevelt High School, cousin of Harvey Martin of
the Cowboys and no stranger to talk. After he had run 20.28 in the
quarterfinals to become the second-fastest high schooler ever, behind only
Dwayne Evans's bronze medal dash of 20.22 in Montreal, he said, "Carl told
me, 'Just run the curve and don't give out.' So I did. And I didn't. When will
I get to be best in the world? It could be Thursday."
But come Thursday
and there was Carl, stripping off his flight suit (translucent silver this
time, as though he had been wrapped in cloudy aspic) and flying. Others started
well, but by mid-curve Lewis was in front. He ran wide in his lane, outside the
center, which cost him time, but he pulled away down the stretch, showing the
effort for the first time in the trials, for he was bucking a 0.2
meter-per-second wind. He reached the end in 19.86, the fastest ever run into a
The only sprinter
to stay near was Houston junior Kirk Baptiste, who was second in 20.05,
vindicating Tellez's school of scientific sprinting. Well, psycho-scientific.
"Kirk and Carl both do what you ask them to do in the heat of battle,"
said Tellez. Lewis and Baptiste hugged, and then Lewis strode back past the
stands holding up four long, graceful fingers. In a month and a half, there
could be as many gold medals dangling from them.
The third spot was
a race between Martin, who didn't run a great turn, and Jefferson, who didn't
either, but they both passed everybody else. Jefferson made it, in 20.37 to
Martin's 20.43. "I heard the announcer say the leaders were Carl, Kirk and
Larry Myricks," said Jefferson. "That told me I hadn't done my
job." He got on with it and now has a warm summer to sharpen him for the
were soft and few. "I dreamed last night that I'd get fourth," he said.
For long moments, as the top three were assailed with questions, he stood
apart. Finally he whispered, "Only the strong survive."
Words for Evelyn
Ashford to live by. She, of course, is the world-record holder in the women's
100 (10.79), and possessed of legs so fast that, in the words of her coach, Pat
Connolly, "She's faster than the muscles can stand." She tore a section
of hamstring in the world championship 100 last summer, and took all winter to
heal and rehabilitate. Now she was back, the eternal Ashford, elegantly
coiffed, brightly dressed, unbeatably swift.
Warming up for the 100 semifinal, she rose into a full sprint. "I saw her
slow down irregularly," said Connolly. "It wasn't a pull. Just a slight
strain." It was in the same right hamstring that Ashford injured in
Helsinki, but lower, just above the back of the knee. At once she was
diagnosed, treated with electrical impulses, and then taped. She put tights
over the tape "to keep it from unraveling," said Connolly, "but she
felt humiliated with the tape. She had never raced with tape before."
She did so
cautiously, finishing third in 11.43, to make the final. Then ensued more hours
of ice and therapy. She was sore. Connolly was ready to scratch her from the
said Ashford. "If I don't do this, I don't get to run in the