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Tiacoh Has the Best of Four Smoking 44s in a Hot 400 Meters

May 18, 1986|MAL FLORENCE | Times Staff Writer

There aren't many world records that have endured since the 1970s. So any record set in the '60s falls into the dinosaur category.

Two remain: the long jump of 29 feet 2 1/2 inches by Bob Beamon and the 400-meter mark of 43.86 seconds by Lee Evans.

Both were set in the high altitude of the 1968 Olympic Games at Mexico City.

There is some evidence, though, that Evans' revered record will be challenged in the near future.

Four runners were under 45 seconds Saturday in the Pepsi Invitational at UCLA, with Gabriel Tiacoh leading the way in 44.32 seconds.

Tiacoh, from the Ivory Coast and Washington State, recorded the third-fastest time at sea-level while bursting past Darrell Robinson in the final 60 meters.

Robinson held on for second place with a personal best time of 44.45, while Andre Phillips, more renowned as a 400-meter hurdler, also had a personal best of 44.71 in third.

Innocent Egbunike of Nigeria was fourth in 44.82. He previously held the meet record of 44.81, but he was caught up in one of the fastest 400 fields of all time.

With the exception of the Olympic Games, it's rare for four runners to run sub-45 400s in the same race.

Antonio McKay, the bronze medalist in the 400 at the 1984 Olympics, was fifth in 45.02, while UCLA freshman Henry Thomas, coming back from a foot injury, was sixth with a fine time of 45.42.

Michael Franks, the world's top-ranked 400 man in 1985, was back in the pack in eighth place with a time of 45.55, which isn't shabby.

There were other creditable performances before a crowd of 9,029 on a warm day at Drake Stadium. A sampling:

--Valerie Brisco-Hooks won the women's 100 meters in 10.99, moving her into a tie for third on the all-time U.S. list.

--Greg Foster, the silver medalist in the 110-meter hurdles in the 1984 Olympics, beat the gold medalist, Roger Kingdom, in the fast time of 13.27.

--Pam Marshall won the women's 400 in 49.99 to become only the third American to go under 50 seconds. Brisco-Hooks and Chandra Cheeseborough are the others.

--Jim Spivey held off Steve Scott in the final stretch of the mile to win in 3:56.72; Johnny Gray won the 800 in 1:45.22, and Claudette Groenendaal won the women's 800 in 1:59.9.

Except for the mile, all of these marks were best-in-the-world efforts for 1985.

Willie Banks, the world record-holder in the triple jump at 58-11 1/2, won his event, as expected, at 56-4 1/2, and Mike Tully made his outdoor 1985 debut by clearing 18-11 1/2 to win the pole vault.

Tiacoh, a 23-year-old silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics behind Lt. Alonzo Babers, was surprised by his fast time.

"The rest of the field was gone (by me) at 200 meters," he said. "I just tried to come back. My first objective was to win and get a fast time. I'm surprised by such fast times so early in the season."

Tiacoh, who'll compete in the 200 and the 400 in the Pacific 10 meet next Friday and Saturday at the Coliseum, said he hasn't competed in the 400 regularly.

"The weather has been very cold in Pullman (Wash.)," he said.

Asked if Evans' 400 record could be in jeopardy now, Tiacoh said: "If this field could run four or five times together in one year, someone will do it."

Tiacoh was reminded that Evans had the advantage of running at high altitude, where every sprint record from 100 through 400 meters has been set.

"The record may have been set at high altitude, but it was run on Earth," Tiacoh said, implying that the record was certainly within the realm of human endeavor.

McKay expected to win the gold in the 1984 Olympics. When he didn't, he said he was physically and mentally burned out for the 1985 season.

But he has come back strong and was unbeaten, indoors and outdoors, until Saturday.

"I still hadn't gotten over the jet lag of competing in Tokyo last Sunday," McKay said. "Also, my fiancee, Trinna, was in labor for 19 hours the middle of the week. She gave birth to a girl, Antonetta. So I was extremely tired."

Track Notes

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