He was quietly overwhelmed, fighting back tears during an interview on the infield. "When a lifelong dream culminates, you don't know what to think," said Burrell. "You imagine yourself feeling very happy, but that isn't exactly what you feel. It is very humbling."
More so for the fast field that swept across the line behind him. Lewis, who had run 9.93 in second, pronounced himself more than satisfied. "I just need competition," he said. "I need meets." Mitchell was third, in 10.00.
Despite the record, University of Houston coach Tom Tellez, who coaches Burrell and Lewis, believes that both runners can go faster. "Leroy reached his maximum a little too soon," said Tellez, who advocates a smooth acceleration to peak speed by 60 meters and then relaxing to maintain that speed to the finish. "Carl spread his acceleration out more. The only thing he didn't do was react with the gun. He had to sit there."
Although it was Burrell who established the record, Tellez kept talking about Lewis. "He amazed me," said Tellez, who has coached Lewis for 11 years. "I didn't think he could run that time with that start. That may be the fastest I've ever seen anybody move. I wish Carl was in the 200.1 think it would be a heck of a race."
Even without Lewis, Saturday's 200 offered the best matchup of the meet, pitting Burrell against Michael Johnson, last year's Track and Field News Male Athlete of the Year. Unfortunately, the race was run into a strong head wind, making fast times impossible. Burrell started well and seemed to have a slight lead on Johnson as they sped into the homestretch. But as Johnson said later, "Coming out of the curve, it felt like I was in control. I was putting pressure on Burrell, because he tried to respond and couldn't." Johnson won the race by one meter, in 20.31.
"I was flat," said Burrell, for whom the 200 final was his sixth run of the weekend. He nevertheless edged teammate Floyd Heard for second, 20.42 to 20.44.
Given the meet's stature and the population of metropolitan New York City, the turnout at 22,000-seat Downing Stadium could only be considered disappointing. "This is a seriously low-key meet," said Daley Thompson of Great Britain, the world-record holder in the decathlon who was on hand as a spectator. "If this meet were held anywhere else in the world, the place would be full up." When Friday's attendance was announced as 7,523, Thompson said, "Give or take 7,000."
But Thompson was inspired by what he saw in the decathlon. Forced to cope with all the adversity man and nature could devise, Dan O'Brien, 24, turned in a performance that was very nearly Thompsonian. On June 12, the first day of the meet, O'Brien clocked 10.23 in the 100—hardly in Burrell's league but still .03 of a second faster than Thompson's decathlon best. Distressingly, though, there was no wind gauge. TAC has contracts with equipment suppliers Swiss Timing and UCS, but there was a misunderstanding as to who would provide the wind gauge. At 11 a.m., when the most eagerly anticipated U.S. decathlon in years was about to begin, the stadium was without a wind gauge, which meant that there could be no world or American record. A gauge was found early that afternoon, although it was too late for O'Brien.
"It's unfortunate they didn't provide a good arena for these guys," said Bruce Jenner, who won the decathlon gold medal at the 1976 Olympics. Indeed, though TAC awarded New York City the meet 18 months ago, workmen stayed barely one step ahead of the decathletes. When the decathletes arrived at the designated long jump runway, it was still being surfaced. They moved to another runway. And the takeoff apron for the high jump was perilously soft, but they used it anyway.
Tracy Sundlun, who as executive director of the Metropolitan Athletics Congress served as codirector of the meet, accepted the blame. But how could TAC officials have allowed preparations to be so lax? Among all U.S. track meets, the trials for the World Championships are second in importance only to the Olympic trials. With the sport suffering in this country because of a decline in participation and poor attendance—the cover billing on the May issue of Track & Field News asked, WHAT IF THEY GAVE A TRACK MEET AND NOBODY CAME?—it is incomprehensible that TAC officials didn't do whatever was necessary to get the facility ready in time. Organization, obviously, is the last bastion of amateurism in U.S. track and field. Neither TAC president Frank Greenberg nor Ollan Cassell, TAC's executive director, had inspected the facility before the start of the meet.