There won't be another like him until Helsinki freezes over. Lewis dominated the inaugural World Championships of track and field by winning the 100 meters and long jump and anchoring the U.S. 400-meter relay team that raced to a world record. He nearly lost his concentration in the 100 finals when a bee elbowed its way into his lane. He flicked at the bug with annoyance and stumbled shortly after he left the blocks. But that wasn't the be-all and end-all, because a bee awaited him at the finish line. The same one? "I hope not," Lewis said. "I thought I was faster than that." Mary (Double) Decker had a busman's holiday, running off with the 1,500 and 3,000. The U.S. had some pretty lame excuses for not doing so well in other events: Evelyn Ashford tore a hamstring muscle in the 100 finals, and Henry Marsh tripped over the last barrier in the steeplechase. Willie Gault of the University of Tennessee had a decision to make. As a sprinter, he was the first person to win both the 60-yard hurdles and the 60-yard dash at the NCAA indoor championships. As a wide receiver, he was a first-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears. He resolved his dilemma by choosing NFL gold over possible Olympic gold.
A YEAR OF HIGHS AND LOWS
Wearing a watch on his wrist but no socks on his feet, Edwin Moses celebrated his 28th birthday by slicing .11 of a second off his world record in a 400-meter hurdles race in Koblenz, West Germany. The date (Aug. 31) had come to him in a dream, perhaps a recurring one considering it was his 85th consecutive victory. In one seven-week span between May and July, major world records were broken 17 times. Calvin Smith and Evelyn Ashford broke the men's and women's marks for 100 meters within 15 minutes of each other at the National Sports Festival. Romania's Anisoara Cusmir went hopping mad, setting and bettering the women's long-jump standard three times in three weeks, finally reaching 24'4½". Zhu Jianhua of China flopped onto the high-jumping scene in June with a world record leap of 7'9¼"; he added another half inch three months later. The women also conformed to a higher standard as West Germany's Ulrike Meyfarth cleared the bar at 6'8", and the Soviet Union's Tamara Bykova raised it to 6'8¼".
By recklessly twanging himself into the air, as he put it, Billy Olson became history's first 19-foot indoor pole vaulter and the first American to clear 19 feet indoors or out. But Thierry Vigneron of France wound up with the height advantage, raising the outdoor world record to 19'½". Sydney Maree, a native of South Africa, made his Cologne opponents seem as if they were marching to Pretoria, lowering Steve Ovett's 1,500 world record by .12 of a second. Overt later reclaimed the mark with a 3:30.77. Nearly as massive and powerful as an NFL noseguard, the 32-year-old Kratochvilova of Czechoslovakia won world titles in the 400 and 800 and set women's world records at both distances.
February 8, 1984
Improving by leaps and bounds in the long jump, Carl Lewis made 28'10¼".
Lewis went heavy medal by winning three golds in Helsinki.
Alberto Juantorena broke a bone during an 800-meter heat (above), while Tom Petranoff (top center) broke the world javelin mark.
Dashing Calvin Smith set a world mark in the 100.
Zamira Zaitseva bit the dust as Decker won the 1,500 in Helsinki (left); record-holder Eamonn Coghlan dominated the indoor mile.
Allan Wells of Great Britain (near lane) was hot in the 100-meter heats, but finished fourth in the finals behind three Americans.
Ashford anchored away to give the U.S. 4 X 100 record the heave-ho.
Heptathletes Judy Livermore of Great Britain and Jackie Joyner of the U.S. (below) made giant strides at the World Championships.
Jarmila Kratochvilova (above) set world records in the 400 and 800; Udo Beyer put the shot heard round the world in a Los Angeles meet.
Alberto Cova was the supernova of the 10,000 meters at Helsinki.