Advertisement
  1. Archive

The Big Event // HERE COMES JOHNSON

WHAT: Men's 400-meter final.

WHEN: Race scheduled for 9:10 p.m.

ABOUT THE RACE: The 400 is a one-lap race with a staggered start. It is considered one of the toughest, combining blinding speed and endurance.

U.S. DOMINANCE: Athletes from the United States have finished first at the Olympics 16 of the 22 times they have entered, and have won more than half the total medals. U.S. athletes account for seven of the top 10 times in the world this year. For American athletes, the trials often are more stressful than the Olympics.

WATCH FOR: A world record. The track at Olympic Stadium has proved to be extraordinarily fast. Donovan Bailey set a world mark in the 100 (9.84 seconds) Saturday night, and Michael Johnson _ who has flirted with the world 400 record _ set the world mark in the 200 (19.66) at the trials. The mark of 19.72 (set in 1979) was the oldest world record in the book.

THE BEST: Johnson is the undisputed favorite; his quest for the historic 200/400 Olympic double begins tonight. Last year he became the first man to win both events at the World Championships.

Johnson has won 53 consecutive 400 finals. His 43.44 at the trials is the fastest ever on American soil.

In 1992, Johnson was ranked No.1 in both events but elected to concentrate on the 200. He was a favorite in that event but got food poisoning before the Olympics. Weakened from 10 days of illness, he was eliminated in the semifinals.

Johnson ran easily in his semifinal heat Sunday, winning in 44.59 seconds. He slowed considerably in the last 50 meters, turning his head to check out his opponents, as he did in his earlier two rounds.

"I won't look around tomorrow," Johnson said.

THE REST: World record-holder Butch Reynolds is the man most mentioned as Johnson's toughest competition, but he pulled up in his semifinal heat Sunday with what appeared to be an injury to his right hamstring.

With Reynolds' injury went any chances of a U.S. sweep, but 1-2 is a possibility.

Alvin Harrison, the other U.S. qualifier, finished fourth in his semifinal heat and should be a medal threat.

Britain's Roger Black and Iwan Thomas also are contenders.

_ SHARON GINN

Past winners

1992: Quincy Watts, U.S., 43.50 (Olympic record).

1988: Steven Lewis, U.S., 43.87.

1984: Alonzo Babers, U.S., 44.27.

1980: Viktor Markin, Soviet Union, 44.60.

1976: Alberto Juantorena, Cuba, 44.26.

1972: Vincent Matthews, U.S., 44.66.

1968: Lee Evans, U.S., 43.86.

1964: Michael Larrabee, U.S., 45.1.

1960: Otis Davis, U.S., 44.9.

1956: Charles Jenkins, U.S., 46.7.

World record

BUTCH REYNOLDS: U.S., 43.29 (1988).

Top times

of 1996

(Through July 7)

MICHAEL JOHNSON: U.S., 43.44.

BUTCH REYNOLDS: U.S., 43.91.

ALVIN HARRISON: U.S., 44.09.

A. MAYBANK: U.S., 44.15.

CHARLES GITONGA: Kenya, 44.20.

L. SMITH: U.S., 44.30.

ROGER BLACK: Britain, 44.37.

D. HALL: U.S., 44.51.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement