Both men slammed into their fourth hurdles. McKoy caught his with his right hip and went to the track. Foster skidded across him and came to rest nearby. They lay there, shocked and bleeding. Strips of skin were scraped from the back of Foster's left thigh. McKoy had suffered a deep gash in his left shin, cuts in his right calf and a badly bruised side.
Meanwhile, a jubilant Tonie Campbell had shot across the finish line, the winner in a personal-best 7.51. "When you hear wood flying, you get out of the way," he said. "I've already gotten two concussions running the highs, so when I heard it, I automatically tucked in and pushed forward."
Running for years in the shadows of Foster and Renaldo Nehemiah had prepared Campbell for this moment: "I think of myself as a scavenger," he said, "a hyena who goes around and takes the spoils of the kill."
At first McKoy was disqualified. Then referee Chaplin reviewed the tape and reinstated McKoy and disqualified Foster. The rules permitted a rerun, but McKoy simply wasn't in any condition to run another race. Campbell's victory stood.
Foster, mortified that this had happened just when he was overcoming a reputation for disintegrating under pressure, rushed off. In his absence, Campbell once again stepped in to put things in harsh perspective. "The hurdles are a violent event," he said. "Graceful, but violent, too. The first thing you learn in the hurdles is how to fall."
After all, if a circus is to be a success, it must include beauty, extraordinary feats and, by all means, daring.