"I came from 95-degree heat in Houston," said Lewis. "Maybe that took a little bit of sting out of my legs."
Without Lewis's customary late-race power surge, Christie beat him by 1� meters but won only after straining past Drummond in the final 20. "People have said I was too old since I was 26," said Christie afterward. "Then I won [in Barcelona] at 32. I am a winner."
That he would be around to win the gold last year was never a certainty. Like Lewis—who now says he hopes to race through the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta—Christie toyed with retirement. He did so in 1991 after he ran a personal record of 9.92 at the world championships in Tokyo but lost. "Can you imagine," he said after that historic sprint, "running a 9.92 and finishing fourth?" Of course, the first of the three men who finished ahead of Christie was Lewis, who set the world record of 9.86 in that race.
Thankfully, neither Lewis nor Christie opted for the gold watch, though the former has forsaken the long jump to concentrate solely on the 100 this season. Among those who urged Christie to stay in the game was Lewis, so that—if nothing else—there would be someone older than him out there. "The two oldest guys in the sport put bums on seats," Christie said after Friday night's race.
As for Lewis, he is certain he can still run as fast as he ever has, which is fast enough to make the earth rotate in the opposite direction. "I know I can run under 10 seconds this year," he says. "And that will put me in any race."
The scary thing is, nobody disputes him. "The knowledge of a few years ago said you couldn't run past age 26," says Marsh, who just turned 26. "For guys to be doing this at 32 and 33 says a lot about those scientific theories—and says a lot to the rest of us coming up, as well."
That's the beautiful thing about being Carl Lewis: When you've run the final leg of relay races all your life, you think you never have to pass the baton.