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Invitational at UCLA Draws Formidable Field : Slaney, Brenner, Joyner-Kersee Scheduled to Compete Today at Drake Stadium

May 16, 1987|MAL FLORENCE | Times Staff Writer

It's risky to rank the most notable track and field achievement in the last 50 years.

Arguably, though, the breaking of the 4-minute mile barrier by Roger Bannister in 1954 could stand alone on merit.

Four minutes. It was almost a mystical number until Bannister lowered the record to 3:59.4, creating front page news around the world.

John Walker wasn't similarly acclaimed when he went under 3:50 with a time of 3:49.4 in 1975.

The 4-minute mile is now commonplace in men's competition, but it would be the greatest achievement for Mary Decker Slaney.

"The ultimate achievement and goal beyond the Olympics, or anything, would be running a 4-minute mile," Slaney said.

"If I have to do it with men in the race, I don't care. If it's not recognized as a world record, I don't care.

"An Olympic medal, or race, is extremely important, but to be the first woman to run the 4-minute mile would be something that only one person could do. I'm not saying I'll be the person who does it, but that person will be remembered in track and field."

Slaney, who holds the world record--4:16.71--will attempt to come close to her goal today in the Pepsi Invitational meet at UCLA's Drake Stadium. It's doubtful that she will achieve it, though, considering that she doesn't have any serious domestic competition.

Moreover, it will be Slaney's first track competition--she has been in some road races--since the birth of her daughter, Ashley Lynn, May 30, 1986.

Even though Slaney isn't likely to set a world record today, there's a possibility that John Brenner could establish one in the shotput.

In two previous meets, the former UCLA star broke the American record twice with throws of 73 feet 1/2 inch and 73-10 3/4. At that rate of improvement, the world record of 74-3 1/2, held by East Germany's Udo Beyer, is in jeopardy. There are other events involving world-class athletes:

--Greg Foster, the world's No. 1-ranked high hurdler, will get another challenge from a familiar competitor. Tonie Campbell enhanced his credentials with a time of a 13.19 in Modesto last Saturday.

Still, it remains to be seen whether Campbell can beat Foster, which he has seldom done.

--The 400-meter race lost some of its allure when Ohio State's Butch Reynolds had to withdraw because of a groin injury. Reynolds shocked the track and field establishment with his recent time of 44.09, best ever at sea level.

Nonetheless, the field is formidable, including Olympic champion Alonzo Babers, Antonio McKay, Nigeria's Innocent Egbunike, Andre Phillips and UCLA's Danny Everett.

--The pole vault field could be pared down quickly with an opening height of 18 feet. However, 19-foot vaulters such as Mike Tully, Earl Bell, Billy Olson and France's Thierry Vigneron are expected to go higher.

--Steve Scott, America's premier miler for a decade, will be challenged by Jim Spivey. Johnny Gray, the American record-holder in the 800, could be threatened by Brazil's Jose Luis Barbosa, the indoor world champion.

--Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the world record-holder in the heptathlon, intends to break the world long jump record this summer in Europe. She'll get an early start on her goal today.

Track Notes Field events will start at noon, the first running event at 12:50 p.m. . . . West Germany's Dietmar Mogenburg, the 1984 Olympic champion, had to withdraw from the high jump because of a foot injury. . . . Valerie Brisco, a triple gold medal winner at the 1984 Olympics, will be doubling in the 400 and 200 meters. . . . Quincy Watts, the accomplished young sprinter from Taft High in Woodland Hills, moves up in class today, opposing such veteran sprinters as Harvey Glance and Mark Witherspoon in the 100 meters. . . . Willie Banks, the former UCLA star and world record-holder in the triple jump at 58-11 1/2, returns to familiar turf today. . . . Britain's Roald Bradstock, who has a throw of 275-1, will try to close in on the world record of 281-3 for the new style javelin.

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