COLOGNE, West Germany — Mary Decker Slaney held off a spirited challenge by Olympic champion Maricica Puica of Romania to win the 3,000 meters in 3:29.69, an American record and the fastest time in the world this year during a Mobil Grand Prix track and field meet Sunday.
Puica, who finished in 8:30.32, won the Olympic gold medal in Los Angeles after the famed collision between Slaney and Zola Budd of Britain forced the American out of the race.
Here, Slaney led from start to finish, but was strongly challenged by Puica as they came into the final straight. The blonde Romanian came on quickly and tried to overtake Slaney on the outside. Running shoulder-to-shoulder for 20 to 30 meters, Puica looked like she might have enough strength to pull out a victory.
But Slaney, drawing on her famous kick, rallied again and finished comfortably ahead.
Last Wednesday in Zurich, Slaney beat Puica and Budd as she set a world record in the women's mile.
Olympic champion Joaquim Cruz of Brazil beat Sebastian Coe of Britain in the 800 meters, running the fastest time in the world this year.
Cruz was timed in 1:42.55, slightly off Coe's world mark of 1:41.73 set in 1981. The long-striding Brazilian may have lost precious seconds as he frequently looked over his shoulder to see if he was threatened by Coe. In a replay of the L.A. Olympic final, Coe tried to make a move in the final lap, but Cruz was never in trouble.
Coe finished in 1:43.07, while Johnny Gray of the United States came in third with a time of 1:43.33.
American Carl Lewis, the quadruple Olympic champion, suffered his third defeat in as many races on the 1985 European tour. Marian Woronin of Poland, the European record-holder in the 100 meters, edged Lewis in the sprint.
However, Lewis, coming off a two-month layoff with a hamstring injury, fared better than in his previous two races. He finished fourth last week in Zurich over the 100 meters and then placed fourth again over 200 meters in Berlin on Friday.
Lewis was slow out of the blocks--trailing in seventh place--but accelerated tremendously in the last 50 meters and was rapidly closing in on Woronin. However, the Pole held on to win in 10.19, with Lewis second in 10.27. Kirk Baptiste of the United States, who beat Lewis over the 200 meters in Berlin, was third in 10.29.
"Oh, God, I'm so happy," Lewis said after the race. "My legs are coming back, I was really going at the end."
Lewis injured his right hamstring in May.
Lewis said he planned to long jump in Brussels, Belgium, Friday, the last Mobil Grand Prix meet before the final in Rome. Lewis will not be competing in Rome because he did not win enough points in his shortened season.
Sydney Maree of the United States ran the fourth fastest 1,500 meters ever, setting an American record of 3:29.77.
With two "rabbits" pacing the race, Maree appeared close to breaking the two-day-old world record of 3:29.45 set by Said Aouita of Morocco in Berlin.
The blistering pace held up and the race was still faster at 1,200 meters than the one in which Aouita set the record. Unfortunately, Maree slowed down in the last meters and Aouita's record was not broken.