Facebook Twitter



Making the U.S. Olympic team in the 200 meters was supposed to be a mere formality for Gwen Torrence, the reigning Olympic champion and the world's top female sprinter.

Now, all of a sudden, it's going to be a struggle.Torrence will have to overcome a thigh injury to have any chance of continuing her quest for two individual Olympic gold medals this summer.

Torrence, who already has qualified in the 100, survived the first round in the 200 Friday evening in the U.S. track and field trials despite the leg problem.

She faces quarterfinals and semifinals 90 minutes apart in the 200 on Saturday, and the final on Sunday.

"My left thigh is hurting real bad. But I'm going to gut it out and try to make the team," she said after finishing third in her 200 heat in 23.07 seconds. "I'm going to think positive and pray."

Torrence, who had an ice pack placed on the thigh almost immediately after finishing her heat, had only the 10th-best time in the first round.

Torrence, the 1992 Olympic champion in the 200, said her thigh began hurting in the final of the 100 last Saturday. She won that race in 10.82 seconds, tying her personal best and setting the world's best mark this year.

"My thigh was tight in the 100 meters, especially in the last 15 meters of that race," said Torrence, who has used ice and ultrasound to treat the thigh. "It hurts the worst on the turn."

Also hurting is Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who qualified for the women's long jump final despite a cramp in her left quadriceps. Her husband and coach, Bobby Kersee, said she should be fine for Sunday's final.

Chris Huffins led Dan O'Brien by 69 points at the halfway point of the decathlon. Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis and Mike Marsh all easily advanced to the quarterfinals of the men's 200. Gail Devers won her first-round heat in the women's 100-meter hurdles.

Mark Croghan won the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, Bob Kennedy captured the men's 5,000 and Kate Fonshell finished first in the women's 10,000.

While Torrence is trying to preserve her chances of running in two individual events at the Olympics, Mary Slaney will have to settle for only one.

Slaney, who on Monday used a dramatic kick to finish second in the women's 5,000 and claim a U.S. Olympic team spot in that event, faded to seventh in her semifinal of the 1,500 Friday evening and failed to reach the final.

Slaney, 37, was among the leaders with little more than a lap to go, but was unable to cope with the 104-degree heat and 48 percent humidity.

"I was just really tired. Today was the hottest day so far. I can feel the effects of it," Slaney said. "I couldn't have pushed myself any harder.

"I'm not unhappy. I'd have liked to have run a faster 1,500 here, but that wasn't my priority coming here," she added. "My priority was the 5,000 and making the Olympic team. I accomplished those two priorities."

Ruth Wysocki, 39, whose first Olympic trials were in 1976, also appeared to be out of the 1,500 - but she advanced to the final after filing a protest.

Wysocki led for most of the race, but got jostled by Sarah Thorsett and stumbled at the start of the final lap.

"It was just very, very physical out there," Wysocki said. "With a lap to go, I kind of got my feet tangled and was sort of standing still while everyone else was moving. By the time I got moving, they were gone."

Officials upheld Wysocki's protest, disqualifying Thorsett and advancing Wysocki to Sunday's final.

Slaney, who has experienced her share of mid-race collisions, was not involved in the pileup that involved Wysocki.

"There was a lot of pushing and shoving and I didn't want to get caught up in it," she said.

Slaney survived a collision Monday in the 5,000 final. She nearly tripped on the last lap of that race when Amy Rudolph clipped her heel, but she stayed on her feet to qualify.

After five events in the decathlon, world record-holder O'Brien was trailing Huffins - who ran the fastest 100 in decathlon history to take the early lead in the grueling two-day competition.

Huffins, second to O'Brien in the national championships last year, had 4,687 points after the first day while O'Brien had 4,618.

Huffins traditionally has a strong first-day showing and fades in the last five events of the decathlon. He was second in the event after the first day of the 1992 Olympic trials, only to finish 15th.

O'Brien didn't make it through the second day of the 1992 trials, failing to clear any height in the pole vault.

Huffins' showing in the first five events was more impressive than expected. Huffins, who won an NCAA title at California in 1993, won each of the first three events - the 100, long jump and shot put.

Huffins finished the 100 in 10.22 seconds, the fastest time ever in a decathlon. He won the long jump with a leap of 25 feet, 111/2 inches and was best in the shot put with a toss of 53-111/4 - by far his personal best.

He also had a personal best of 6-71/2 in the high jump, and a personal best of 48.05 seconds in the 400 meters. O'Brien closed the gap on Huffins by high jumping 6-93/4 and running the 400 in 46.81.

O'Brien, who had planned to get an intravenous boost after the high jump, felt weak after the shot put and was the only decathlete to get a liter of IV solution at that early point.

"You can get in danger when you get that dehydrated, because you can't cool down. It can hurt performance and create the risk of injuries," said Dr. Glenn Terry, who administered the IV. "In his case there was no real danger, but he realized he was getting behind in his fluids."

Friday was the most uncomfortable day of the competition so far. Tents were set up on the infield to shade the decathletes, who stood in front of mist-blowing fans between attempts in the long jump.

Jeff Williams had the best first-round time of 20.10 seconds in the men's 200. Lewis ran 20.30, Johnson finished in 20.61 and 1992 Olympic champion Marsh ran 20.34.

Two-time world champion Devers easily won her heat in 12.83 seconds in the women's 100-meter hurdles. Lynda Tolbert-Goode had the best first-round time of 12.78.

World champion Allen Johnson had the best time of 13.18 seconds in the first round of the men's 110-meter hurdles. Also reaching the quarterfinals were Mark Crear and two-time Olympic gold medalist Roger Kingdom.



Pyrah advances

Jason Pyrah of Provo won his semifinals heat of the 1,500 meters Friday (3 minutes, 44.35 seconds) and advanced to Sunday's finals. Mark Johansen of Bountiful finished seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals (8:38.45) and failed to qualify for the Olympics.