Leftover notes from last week's U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Indianapolis:
For the finals of the triple jump, Mike Conley, the 1984 Olympic silver medalist, wore a pair of loose-fitting shorts; they might have cost him a spot on the Olympic team.On his final jump, Conley produced a leap that appeared to be good enough to put him on the team - that is, until officials decided to measure from where they said his shorts left a mark in the sand, and not where his feet touched down. That left Conley with a mark of 57-93/4, a half-inch out of third place and a spot on the Olympic team.
Now comes word from Conley's coach, John McDonnell, that ABC videotape shows the mark was in the sand before Conley took his jump. "We saw this mark was already in the sand, either from the previous jumper or from when they dragged the board across to smooth the sand," McDonnell told one reporter. He also added, "There's no further recourse."
By the way, for the long jump final, Conley wore a form-hugging, one-piece Spandex body suit.
Florence Griffith Joyner's incredible world record of 10.49 in the second round of the 100-meter dash heats came well ahead of its time. "According to projections based on past improvements," wrote Sports Illustrated's Kenny Moore, "no woman was supposed to reach even 10.65 until the year 2000."
But before the time is ratified as a world record, there could be problems. The wind gauge for the 100 read 0.0, but somehow, just 30 feet away, the wind guage for the triple jump read 4.3 (well over the allowable wind of 2.0 meters per second for record purposes).
One coach explained it to Moore this way: "What seems really possible is that she got a crosswind at the point of the guage, but a tail wind at the beginning and end of her race." Uh-huh.
There are other suspicious factors: five women broke 11 seconds in the first two heats of this, a mere second-round race (both windless), all of them personal records; the third heat had a wind aid of 5.0 and produced two more sub-11 marks. The next day only three managed to break 11 in the semifinals (wind: 1.6) and finals (1.4). Still, under those conditions, Griffith Joyner managed 10.70 and 10.61, which is proof enough that regardless of which mark is ultimately ratified, she is well ahead of her time.
One must wonder about the future of a pair of ex-pro football players who have returned to the track. Ron Brown, who quit the L.A. Rams this year to try to return to the Olympics, barely survived the first round, then was eliminated in the second round, placing fifth in his heat with a time of 10.26. Brown was fourth in the L.A. Olympics, just prior to beginning his pro football career.
And then there's Renaldo Nehemiah, the hurdler-turned-receiver-turned hurdler. After barely surviving the semifinals of the 110-meter high hurdles, he failed to finish the final. Nehemiah, who set a seemingly untouchable world record of 12.93 before retiring at the end of the '82 season to join the San Francisco 49ers, has produced a best of only 13.48 since returning to the hurdles two years ago (after a disappointing stay with the 49ers). Time might be running out for Nehemiah, who, unlike Brown, doesn't have the option of returning to the NFL.
Carl Lewis won four gold medals in the last Olympics, but only three of them remain in his possession. He buried the gold medal he won in the 100-meter dash with his father, Bill, who died of cancer in 1987. The 100 was Bill's favorite event.
There were a few embarrassing moments at the Olympic trials. For instance, there was the time Ravell Call, the Deseret News' hustling, award-winning photographer, was taking pictures of Doug Padilla during his victory lap. Once, while running ahead of Padilla for another picture, as he must do repeatedly, Call tripped over his camera equipment and fell, hard, to the track. Like some sort of Henry Marsh, he quickly bounced to his feet and ran again, moving in front of Padilla for more shots, elbows bloodied. "It was embarrassing," said Call, who had to take several laps around the track to shoot victory laps, all while carrying about 40 pounds of camera equipment.
But the trials' biggest embarrassment belonged to hurdler David Patrick. Following the close finish of the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, somebody told Patrick he was third and handed him a small American flag. As is customary for the top three finishers, Patrick took a victory lap, only to learn that he had finished fourth and thus had just missed making the Olympic team.
Mary Slaney's Olympic trials victories in the 3,000 and 1,500 were confirmation that she is returning to peak form. The question now is can she stay healthy long enough to get to Seoul. Consider her long list of injuries:
1973 - catches a foot in her bike spokes, in cast for six weeks; 1974 - stress fracture in her ankle, in cast for six weeks; 1976 - shin injury; 1977 - surgery on calf muscles; 1977 - "dozens" of stress fractures discovered in lower legs, in cast 10 weeks; 1977 - fractures skull in car accident; 1978 - more surgery on calf muscles; 1979 - torn back muscles; 1980 - surgery on Achilles tendon; 1980 - foot injury; 1981 - more surgery on calf muscles; 1984 - injures hip in fall in Olympic Games 3,000; 1986 - surgery on right Achilles tendon; 1986 - more surgery on right Achilles tendon; 1988 - strained calf muscle from slipping on snow.