Carl Lewis had said anything he did in Seoul would be history, and Saturday's heralded 100-meter showdown with Ben Johnson was certainly that. Lewis, though, didn't figure to be a losing part of it.
Johnson shaved four-hundredths of a second off his own world record with a time of 9.79, the first time in Olympics history that record has fallen in the 100 final.It was the first time in his Olympic career that Lewis finished anywhere but first, ending his hopes of matching the four gold medals he won in Los Angeles in 1984.
He can still make history by repeating in the 200-meter dash, the 400-meter relay or the long jump, but for now he will have to be content with being part of the fastest 100 ever.
Lewis was second in an American-record 9.92, also breaking the Olympic record of 9.95 set by Jim Hines in 1968, and two others broke the 10-second barrier: Britain's Linford Christie in a European record 9.97 and American Calvin Smith in 9.99.
Six runners were under 10 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials in Indianapolis in July, including Lewis at 9.78, but those times weren't recognized because they wind-aided.
Lewis was just blown away Saturday by Johnson, his Canadian arch rival.
"I thought I gave it my best shot," Lewis said, still gasping for breath after the race. "I think I could have run better (but) I'm pleased with my race."
Johnson said he knew he had it won in the first 30 meters.
"I sailed through," he said. "This gold was for my mother, for everybody, for Canada."
Johnson burst out of the starting block and took the lead immediately, running in Lane 6. Lewis, running in Lane 3, tried to stay with him but never could catch up.
Midway through the race, Lewis turned his head to the right to see where Johnson was. The Canadian was at least two strides in front, and not to be beaten.
In the final 10 meters, Johnson had a big enough lead to afford himself the leisure of lookling left and seeing where Lewis was.
He raised his right arm and signaled No. 1 with his index finger as he crossed the finish line before a roaring near-capacity Olympic Stadium crowd.
Were it not for that gesture, the record might have been even lower.
Johnson became the first Canadian medal winner in Seoul and the first to win the Olympic 100 since Percy Williams in 1928 at Amsterdam.
This race had been eagerly anticipated for more than a year, since a memorable showdown at the world championships in Rome.
Johnson broke the world record that day with a clocking of 9.83 seconds and Lewis was second in 9.93.
They did not meet again until almost a year later, on Aug. 17 in Zurich, when Lewis again clocked 9.93 to win the race. Johnson, coming back from a strained right hamstring, was third that day in 10 flat.
That victory gave Lewis a 9-6 edge in the rivalry and ended a five-race losing streak to Johnson.