The 1988 Olympic Games were a contrast in emotions for Kenyan 800-meter runner Paul Ereng and Cuban high jumper Javier
Ereng, little known before striking gold with a shocking upset victory at the Seoul Olympics, emerged as an international hero. Sotomayor, who might have reached golden heights after setting a world record shortly before the Games, could do nothing but watch the Olympics because of his country's refusal to compete for political reasons.
Saturday, the two shared the same center stage as they and two others set world records in the World Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Joining Sotomayor and Ereng in the record barrage were women's 3,000-meter runner Elly Van Hulst of The Netherlands and women's 3,000-meter walker Kerry Saxby of Australia.
Ereng, the only representative of his country in the meet, surprised himself with a sizzling late rush in overtaking Jose Luis Barbosa of Brazil and winning the 800 in one minute, 44.84 seconds.
Sotomayor, the world outdoor record-holder, matched his best jump ever, soaring 7-feet-111/2 inches on his first attempt.
"I wanted this world record very much, just as much as I wanted to win," Sotomayor said.
Sotomayor played down his absence from the Games.
"The fact that I didn't go to the Olympics is not very important," the 21-year-old jumper said, "because I was only one person who didn't go, while half of Korea (North Korea) couldn't see the Games."
North Korea, which demanded to co-host the Games, boycotted the Olympics, and no television signals from the Games were beamed to the North.
Nevertheless, Sotomayor's presence at Seoul would have added much luster to the high jump and given Sotomayor the chance to compete against the world's other great jumpers.
Sotomayor also cleared 7-111/2 last September in Spain, nine days before the start of the Olympics.
So, even though he was ranked No. 1 in the world for 1988, this was his first opportunity since the Games to prove that he could beat the best jumpers in the world.
Although Olympic champion Gennadiy Avdeyenko of the Soviet Union was not in the championships, the world's other top jumpers were. They included 1984 Olympic gold medalist Dietmar Moegenburg of West Germany, former world record-holder Patrik Sjoeberg of Sweden and Carlo Thraenhardt of West Germany, who held the indoor record of 7-111/4 before Sotomayor surpassed it.
After sailing over the bar, the gleeful Sotomayor thrust his arms into the air, jogged partway around the track, stopped briefly to watch a rerun of his jump on the arena's replay screen, waved and went to the stands to shake hands with Alberto Juantorena, one of Cuba's greatest sports heroes.