High drama at US Olympic trials
Olympic photographers had better get their motor drives ready, because once the starter's gun goes off there won't be much time to shoot sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner, who could be among the most photographed athletes in Seoul. Suddenly she is the talk of the track world - and not just because of her striking fashions, which may have to stay in the closet during the Games. Now her times are a match for her head-turning attire and exotic fingernails, which once grew to 6 inches. Her current trademarks are one-legged body suits she designed and brightly polished curved nails, sometimes with multicolored stripes.Skip to next paragraph
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In the blisteringly hot opening days of the US Olympic Track and Field trials which end here on Saturday, she won the 100 meter dash by obliteratiang a world record that had stood for four years.
Her feat caught nearly everyone off guard, even the public-address announcer, who shared the news with the crowd, then added, ``the reason I sound incredulous is because ... it's incredible.''
In fact, many in the press corps laughed in disbelief when Joyner's 10.49-second time was displayed. In an event where even a 100th of a second improvement would be cause for rejoicing, lowering a world record by 27/100ths seemed sheer fantasy.
Nothing like that had happened since Bob Beamon's history-making long jump in the 1968 Olympics, when in Mexico City's high altitude he leaped nearly two feet farther than anyone ever had.
Joyner is a good sprinter, a 200-meter silver medalist at the '84 Olympics and the '87 World Championships. By improving her starts, however, she has become exceptional, and her consistency here seems to indicate that there was nothing fluky about her record time. She also legally broke the world record in two other 100-meter rounds, including the semifinals and final, when she led Evelyn Ashford, the world record holder and 1984 Olympic gold medalist, across the finish line.
Initially, some felt her record-breakimg effort might have been wind-aided, but the gauge in the infield indicated that the wind was sweeping across the track and registered 0.00 miles per hour behind the runners. The record thus will go into the books and could stand as the most spectacular track and field achievement of 1988.
Of course there is plenty of time left, including the Olympics still ahead. But during this one glorious weekend at least, she was front and center, unwilling to be upstaged by any of the established superstars, including:
Sister-in-law Jackie Joyner Kersee, who broke her own world record in the heptathlon, with 7,215 points.
Carl Lewis, who ran what would have been a men's 100-meter record of 9.78 seconds if not for a tailwind that exceeded the allowable maximum. Lewis also won the long jump and his first two heats in the 200, bringing him to today's semifinals and finals in position once again to qualify for the four events in which he won gold in '84 (both sprints, the long jump, and the 4x100 relay).
Mary Decker Slaney, who won the women's 3,000 meters to give herself another shot at the Olympic medal she missed out on in 1984 when a collision with Zola Budd ended her dreams.
Edwin Moses, the ageless wonder of the 400-meter hurdles, who outran a field of younger rivals, including Danny Harris, the only man to beat him in a decade.