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Joyner-Kersee Isn't Happy With Meet Record

June 25, 1987|RANDY HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

SAN JOSE — Jackie Joyner-Kersee scored more points than anyone else ever has in the heptathlon, but it was only the third-best performance since last July for her.

Joyner-Kersee finished the event at the USA/Mobil track and field championships Wednesday with 6,979 points, 179 fewer than the world record of 7,158 she set last August in Houston. She had set her first world record of 7,148 a month earlier in the Goodwill Games at Moscow.

Even though it was not her best, it was a record for the national championships and earned her a berth on the U.S. team for the world championships Aug. 29-Sept. 6 at Rome.

Also on the U.S. team are nine-time national champion Jane Frederick of Santa Barbara, who placed second here with 6,389 points, and Cindy Greiner of Eugene, Ore., who was third with 6,275. USC's Wendy Brown finished fifth with 5,896 points.

It appeared as if Joyner-Kersee, who lives in Long Beach and trains at UCLA, might become the first heptathlete ever to set world records in three consecutive competitions after Wednesday's first event, the long jump.

She jumped 23 feet 9 1/2 inches, which is a world record for the heptathlon and would have been an open American record, which she holds at 23-9, if the gusting wind had not been 2.27 meters per second. The allowable wind for heptathlon events is 4.0, but it is 2.0 for open competition.

That gave her 5,387 points, 60 ahead of her world-record pace in Houston.

But after fouling on two of her first three javelin throws, she was able to record a legal throw of only 132 feet.

Her worst throw since April of 1984 left her 130 points behind her Houston pace and needing to run a virtually impossible 2:01.06 in the final event, the 800 meters, to break the record. She ran 2:13.07.

Her coach, Bob Kersee, said Joyner-Kersee had "brain damage" in the javelin.

When she heard that, Joyner-Kersee laughed and said her coach, who also is her husband, would do the cooking Wednesday night.

While they were sparring, they could overhear the public address announcer at San Jose City College call out American decathlon records on all three of Jim Connolly's javelin throws.

Connolly, the NCAA champion from UCLA, had throws of 235-3, 238-1 and 243-11. He held the previous record of 228-5.

"I wish he'd loan some of that to you," Kersee told his wife.

Connolly's javelin performance improved his standing from seventh to fourth through 9 of the 10 events, but he wasn't able to improve on that in the final event, the 1,500 meters.

He finished with 8,053 points, only 30 behind third-place Gary Kinder of Creve Coeur, Mo. Tim Bright of Eugene won with 8,340 points, while Rob Muzzio of Great Falls, Va. was second with 8,134. The first three will represent the United States in Rome.

Joyner-Kersee said she wasn't disappointed because she failed to break her record, but, judging from the distance she threw one of her shoes after the javelin, an unofficial American record, she couldn't have been too pleased.

"The only thing I don't like about coaching Jackie is that she's so tough on herself," Kersee said. "I told her that she has to realize that she's chasing her own goals. How can you get down on yourself because you're not up to your own standards? She has to realize she's only chasing herself."

He even saw some good in her javelin disappointment.

"Jackie's a hard-headed person," he said. "It's hard for her to listen to coaching until something goes wrong. Now, this will open up her ears."

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