clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


Florence Griffith Joyner was a vision in speed. Greg Foster was a profile in courage.

The two, who were once engaged, were linked in drama Friday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials.The colorfully dressed Griffith Joyner shattered the American record in the women's 200-meter dash and Foster, competing for the first time since suffering a broken left forearm, advanced through his first two heats in the men's 110-meter high hurdles.

Griffith Joyner, who set the women's world record of 10.49 in the 100-meter dash last Saturday, won her second-round heat in 21.77 seconds. That erased the U.S. record of 21.81, set by Olympic gold medalist Valerie Brisco at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Foster competed with his arm heavily wrapped, after having removed a light, plastic brace, just before each of his races. He admitted he was in much pain.

But he said, "Basically, I'm not a quitter. It's not like my leg is broken and I can't run. There is no reason not to try to do it."

"If I don't make the team, then I'll probably take the rest of the season off and sit back and enjoy the Olympics on TV," he said.

"I'm doing as much as possible. It seems the pain is building by the fourth or fifth hurdle, and I can't use the arm. Getting into the blocks (also) is painful, because I have to twist my arm a little.

"I don't have any fear. My only concern is of getting bumped. I'm not worried about falling. I haven't thought about hitting the hurdles. I just go out there thinking my arm is in one piece."

Appearing nervous as he paced around the start area before the first heat, Foster was called for one false start before the gun went off. He also appeared to have much difficulty

setting his injured arm in the blocks.

But once he got going, Foster ran relatively well.

He led all the way and was timed in 13.58, edging Andre Phillips, second in 13.60.

In the second round, Foster got out of the blocks slowly, never led and finished a tired third in 13.69.

After the race, he sat on the track, put his arms over his head and lay down on the track for a short time, before being helped up by track attendants. He did not appear hurt, just exhausted.

The hurdles semifinals and final will be run today.

Foster, the 1983 and 1987 world champion and 1984 Olympic silver medalist, suffered the broken arm July 4 during a hurdles drill. He underwent surgery that night and was hospitalized for three days.

This week, he had 54 surgical staples removed from the arm, which was broken in two places. The arm now has four plates in it, held together with 12 screws.

He knew he was taking a big risk by running with the injury, but he said, "I'm a hurdler and I want to hurdle."

Brisco was in the same second-round heat as Griffith Joyner, but she was no match for the new American record-holder, who was wearing a florescent golden yellow, full-length outfit. Brisco finished second in 22.36.

Griffith Joyner's time was the eighth-fastest in history and was only .06 of a second off the world record of 21.71, shared by East Germans Marita Koch and Heike Drechsler. Koch and Drechsler both ran 21.71 twice. Only two other East Germans, Marlies Gohr and Silke Gladisch-Moller, have run faster than Griffith Joyner.

In finals Friday night, Jackie Humphrey scored a narrow victory in the women's 100-meter high hurdles in 12.88, Brian Abshire won the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase in 8:23.64, the fastest by an American this year, and Lynn Nelson captured the women's 10,000 in 31:51.27.

Humphrey, from Eastern Kentucky University, finished just ahead of Gail Devers-Roberts, the co-American record-holder, second in 12.90, and LaVonna Martin third in 12.93.

Joining Nelson on the 10,000-meter team were Francie Larrieu-Smith, 35, second in 32:03.63, and national cross country champion Lynn Jennings, third in 32:07.74.

Earlier, Jackie Joyner-Kersee continued her outstanding long jumping and long-time rivals John Powell and Mac Wilkins extended their feud.

Joyner-Kersee, who set the world heptathlon record a week ago, sailed into Saturday's women's long jump final with a qualifying leap of 23 feet, 81/4 inches, also a meet record.

And Wilkins and Powell, two of track and field's "old guard," finished 1-2 in the men's discus qualifying - and renewed their perennial verbal battle.

Brisco also advanced into the second round of the 200, but not before a near mishap. About 60 meters from the finish of her first-round heat, Brisco lost her right shoe.

But she managed to make it across the finish line in fourth place, advancing along with all other 26 competitors in the heats. Late scratches reduced the fields in each heat.

Powell, 41, trying to become the first American man to make five Olympic teams, threw the discus 205-2 during qualifying for today's final.

Long jumper Willye White is the only American woman to make five Olympic teams, competing in the 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972 Games.

Wilkins, 37, the 1976 Olympic gold medalist and 1984 silver medalist, tossed the discus 209-6 during qualifying. He is seeking his third Olympic berth.