Carol Lewis, NBC's analyst for Olympic women's track, competed in the long jump in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and won the bronze medal in the event at the 1983 World Championships. She also is the sister of Carl Lewis. Lewis shares her thoughts on the Olympics with Times staff writer Sharon Ginn.
Everybody's going to look toward Gwen Torrence as the United States' best hope for an individual gold medal. She's from Atlanta and she was ranked No. 1 in the 100 meters last year. Since she ended up fourth in the 100 in the '92 Games, it's really going to be important to her to win that 100.
But if Gail Devers is at the top of her game, she could be as much of a favorite to win the 100 meters as Gwen is. She won it in Barcelona and was on her way to winning the 100 hurdles also but tripped over the last hurdle and crawled to the finish line _ and still finished fifth.
I can't say for sure, but at her age, this may be Jackie Joyner-Kersee's last Olympics. At 34, after this Olympics she may be thinking more toward starting a family. She had a really rough year in 1995 with injuries. It's hard to train while you're ailing; you never accomplish much.
But I think she's really going to be prepared to win her third gold medal in the heptathlon. I also think Joyner-Kersee in the long jump is the United States' best shot at a medal in the field events. In Atlanta in May she had one of the best jumps in the world this year.
Two, or maybe even three, U.S. women could medal in the 400 hurdles. The picture is dramatically different from what it was last year.
With American Sandra Farmer-Patrick and Sally Gunnell of Britain missing from the 400 hurdles at the 1995 World Championships, it figured to be a pretty boring race. But then two U.S. hurdlers, Kim Batten and Tonja Buford-Bailey, beat Gunnell's world record. It was really weird and totally unexpected. That basically says there are four women who are right in line to run some fast times.
Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to do very well in some of the distance races. I do expect the United States to win both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
The 800 meters could be the best race of the Olympics, between Ana Quirot of Cuba and Maria Mutola of Mozambique. Quirot came back from being severely burned _ and almost dying _ to win the 800 at last year's World Championships. But Mutola was not in the final because she had been disqualified for stepping on a lane line. It should be an excellent race. Mutola had been tearing everybody up all over the world until Quirot came back.