The object of all this effort, of course, was to select the U.S. team for the World Championships in Stuttgart in August. Johnson, Reynolds and Watts qualified in the 400. So even though Johnson was at last grudgingly granted to be a true quarter-miler, his competitors were quick to imagine pinning his ears back in Germany. Watts reminded people that he was only third in the Olympic trials last year but took the gold easily in Barcelona. Reynolds spoke of sprint training that in two months will let him reach the stretch ahead of the tough little guy. "Then we see who the man is," Reynolds said.
Johnson heard some of this and allowed that the Stuttgart 400, with everyone racing fit, may well turn into a classic, but one with a familiar shape. "If I come off the turn with the momentum I had today," he said, businesslike to the end, "they can't catch me."