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Carl Lewis turned to the crowd and held up one hand, spreading all five fingers wide. America's most decorated athlete was an Olympian for the fifth time, something never before accomplished by an American man in track and field.

He could just have easily held two of his fingers a scant inch apart for the margin he had for the third and final spot on the long jump team.Lewis barely made the team after world record holder Mike Powell uncorked a huge leap of 27 feet, 61/2 inches on his last jump, moving from sixth place to first. That dumped Joe Greene to second place and Lewis and his best jump of 27-23/4 to third, just ahead of Mike Conley.

The inch, however, was as good as a mile for Lewis, who was exhilarated over his recovery after finishing last in the 100 meters and sixth in the first day of long jump competition.

"There wasn't a time when I didn't think I was going to make the Olympic team," Lewis said.

Three of his eight gold medals have come in the long jump, making it understandably his favorite event. "It's the one event that never deserted me," he said. "It's always been there for me."

Lewis is closing in on his 35th birthday, but he sees himself as a legitimate threat in the long jump. "The trials is just creating opportunity," he said. "Once you get there, anyone can win."

Lewis became the first man and the third athlete overall to make five U.S. Olympic track teams. Sprinter-long jumper Willye White and distance runner Francie Larrieu-Smith were the only previous five-timers.

Michael Johnson had his own opportunity Wednesday night, a shot at the 400-meter world record that most track people believe eventually will be his.

"The conditions were great," he said. "Everything was perfect. It's nobody's fault but mine that I didn't break the world record."

Johnson won the race, his 53rd consecutive victory in a 400 finals, in 43.44 seconds, a fraction off Butch Reynolds' mark of 43.29 and third fastest 400 of all time. Reynolds was second in 43.91, his fastest time since 1988, when he set the record. Alvin Harrison took the third spot.

Johnson led the race from wire-to-wire, but said he made a mistake at the start that hurt him at the finish. "I didn't get out as hard as I wanted to and it cost me at the end of the race," he said.

"At 200 meters, I tried not to focus on the mistake, just forget it. There's nothing you can do about it. I just thought, `Am I in position to win the race? Yes.' At that point, I was going for the world record."

The bid ended in the last 40 meters. "You wait and see what happens," Johnson said. "It was out of my hands. It started to jump on my back a little. I tried to overcome. I'm strong. I'm not that strong."

Reynolds was happy with his fast time, but unhappy at finishing behind Johnson, who also beat him at the world championships in 1993 and 1995. "He's the only guy who can beat me," he said. "I'm getting tired of being second."

In Wednesday's other finals, American record holder Lance Deal won the men's hammer throw with a throw of 249 feet, 4 inches. In a competition interrupted twice by thunder, lightning and rain, Dave Popejoy was second and Kevin McMahon third.

Johnny Gray, the 1992 Olympic bronze medalist, won the 800 in 1 minute, 44.00 seconds, followed by Brandon Rock and Jose Parrilla. Maicel Malone took the women's 400 in 50.52. Jearl Miles, the 1993 world champion, was second and Kim Graham third.

Suzy Powell had a winning discus throw of 198-9. Lacey Barnes-Mileham was second and Aretha Hill was third.

Mary Slaney, who already has qualified for the Olympics in the women's 5,000, won her heat of the 1,500 Wednesday night to advance to Friday's semifinals.