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Bruce Jenner Track Meet : Johnson Beats Lewis in 100, but He Isn't Claiming to Be No. 1

June 01, 1986|RANDY HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

SAN JOSE — After beating Carl Lewis at Zurich and winning the World Cup in Canberra, Australia last year, Canadian Ben Johnson said he was disappointed when he was ranked No. 2 in the world behind Lewis.

With his victory over Lewis in the 100 meters Saturday at the Bruce Jenner Bud Light meet, Johnson had the opportunity to claim vindication.

Instead, he graciously claimed only to have been the best on one particular day.

"One race doesn't prove nothing," said Johnson, whose time of 10.01 seconds is the world's best this year. Lewis finished second, a full meter behind, in 10.18.

"I could run against him next week, and he could win. It's nice to win, but it doesn't mean nothing."

Lewis agreed with Johnson.

So it was unanimous.

For Lewis, it was his second straight loss in the 100 meters. Another American, Harvey Glance, beat him two weeks ago at Modesto.

But Lewis said Saturday that he is cruising through 1986 and told reporters not to write him off, which would have been difficult to do considering that he came back later in the afternoon with an impressive victory in the 200 meters.

Lewis was the clear winner over his Houston training partner, Kirk Baptiste, although the automatic timer malfunctioned and both were hand-timed in 20.1.

Besides Johnson's time in the 100 Saturday, there were three other performances that were the best in the world this year and one American record as the IAAF Mobil Grand Prix began its second season.

This was the first of 16 Grand Prix meets, the only one in the United States. Athletes will receive prize money based on their point standings after the final meet at Rome on Sept. 10.

The only record of note came on a field adjacent to the track at San Jose City College, long after most of the crowd of 10,829 had left, when Carol Cady, formerly of Stanford, won the discus with a throw of 216-10, breaking the previous American record of 213-11 by Leslie Deniz.

Easily the most popular winner before the crowd dispersed was Andre Phillips, who was raised here and attended San Jose City College before going to UCLA.

Even though he has a stress fracture in his left shin and said he would have foregone this meet if his picture hadn't been on the cover of the program and his parents hadn't been among the crowd, Phillips ran 47.95 in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles for the best time in the world this year.

Ranked No. 1 in the world last year, Phillips beat No. 2 Danny Harris of Iowa State, who ran 48.90.

One major upset was that Johnny Gray lost in the 800 meters. It wasn't to Brazilian Joaquim Cruz, who is injured and won't compete in the United States this year, but to another Brazilian, Jose Luis Barbosa, who, like Cruz, trains in Eugene, Ore.

Barbosa ran 1:45.17, the best in the world this year. Earl Jones was second in 1:45.52, followed by Gray in 1:45.94. Gray has been the second-best 800 runner in the world behind Cruz since 1984.

Henry Marsh ran 8:24.87 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, another world-best for 1986.

Other performances of significance were Willie Banks' winning jump of 58-5 3/4 in the triple jump, although it was wind-aided, and Evelyn Ashford's time of 22.30 in her first 200 since the 1984 Olympic trials.

Johnson, 24, is a Jamaican who moved at age 13 with his family to Toronto. He was the 100-meters bronze medalist behind Lewis and Sam Graddy in the 1984 Summer Olympics but didn't have his first major international victory until last August, when he won at Zurich. Lewis was fourth.

In two other meetings last year, Lewis finished ahead of Johnson. Lewis also had the best time in the world last year with a 9.98 to Johnson's 10.00.

As a result, Lewis was ranked No. 1 in the 100 by Track & Field News for the fifth straight year. Lewis felt he deserved it, but Johnson wasn't so sure. Or else someone put words to that effect into his mouth.

That seems more likely considering that he has a stutter that makes him uncomfortable in interviews. He rarely puts two sentences together before becoming too embarrassed to continue. No one who has been around Johnson for any length of time would describe him as arrogant.

But Lewis knew only what he read.

"I didn't read one article about him when he didn't say that Track & Field News robbed him," Lewis said. "Looking back, I don't think it was as close as people said it was. He beat me in only one race."

There, however, was no doubt about Johnson's legitimacy as a world-class sprinter during the indoor season last winter, when he won nine straight races and set the world record twice at 60 meters.

Again, he was involved in controversy when he was quoted as saying that Lewis avoided him during the indoor season. He told reporters Saturday that he never said that.

"I don't think he was ducking me," Johnson said. "He wasn't in very good shape to compete. No one can say he is not a very good sprinter."

Johnson won Saturday by beating Lewis out of the blocks. Lewis was cautious because he already had one false-start charged against him. A second would have caused his disqualification.

"He usually catches me at 60 meters, but I didn't see him," Johnson said. "So I kept on pumping."

It was a good thing for him because Lewis made up at least one meter on Johnson in the last half of the race.

Atrocious was the word Lewis used for his performance in the race.

"I don't ever remember running a worse 100," he said.

But he didn't appear bothered by the loss, saying that he has other interests this year besides track and field. He had braces put on his teeth two weeks ago to improve his appearance for potential film roles and has been taking voice lessons. Recently, he said he has been negotiating a record contract.

"I'm doing things now that I said no to in 1982, '83 and '84," he said. "I went camping for three or four days last week. I never would have done that before the Olympics.

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