Carl Lewis points for L.A. Olympics; Rafer Johnson's memories

Putting one little word after another and whatever became of miler Gil Dodds, the perambulating parson? . . . If you are looking for superb talent plus picture-book form, nobody combines these qualities better in track and field than Carl Lewis, who has a chance to duplicate Jesse Owens's famed 1936 feat by winning four gold medals at the Los Angeles Olympics. Lewis, who could score in both sprints, the 4x100 relay, and the long jump, gave an interview recently at UCLA in which he said: ''I think I'm as technically sound as any sprinter in the world. In most races I'm going to make up a phenomenal amount of distance at the end. No one in history has been able to accelerate for a full 100 or 200 meters, but I decelerate the least. Essentially, others come back to me.'' Nevertheless, Carl says the long jump is his favorite event. ''To get distance in the long jump, you need twice as much speed as lift,'' he explained. Carl's best leap so far has been 28 ft. 101/4 in., but he's convinced that passing Bob Beamon's world record of 29-21/2, which has stood since the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, is only a matter of time.

Rafer Johnson recalls '60 decathlon win

Rafer Johnson, a member of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, is probably best remembered for winning the decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Even today there are still 13 or 14 foreign athletes from those Games with whom he corresponds regularly. ''To me that's what the Olympics have always been about - friendship,'' says Rafer, whose stomach is still as flat as a washboard. Among Johnson's pen pals is C. K. Yang, who was runner-up in the Rome decathlon while competing for Nationalist China. Asked what he felt gave him the edge in their memorable duel, Rafer, who also won a silver medal four years earlier at Melbourne, replied: ''I'm not sure I can completely answer your question, except to say that I prepared as much mentally for those events as I did physically.'' Had Johnson wanted, he probably could have also made a name for himself in pro football. In high school, Rafer played both ways, excelling as a defensive back and a running back. ''Although the Los Angeles Rams drafted me in 1959, I had too many other interests to make that kind of a commitment at the time,'' Johnson explained.

Fitzsimmons doesn't cotton to statistics

''Whether people are concerned with a team's offense or its defense, they always have a tendency to overreact to statistics,'' says Cotton Fitzsimmons, who left Kansas City after the first round of this year's NBA playoffs to become coach of the San Antonio Spurs. ''Some guys get newspaper reputations as good defensive players because they are credited with a lot of steals. But that's not necessarily indicative of how well they perform under pressure. Often they do their teams more harm than good by taking themselves out of position with their recklessness. The same thing goes for blocked shots. Most shots aren't going to be blocked anyway, because there really isn't much defense for a pull-up jumper that is released quickly. My theory is that a team should only try for the blocked shot when the opportunity is obvious or near the end of a game when only a gambling-type play can help you win.''

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