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Griffith-Joyner Grabbed at Meet : She Is Attacked by Fan Before Race After Refusing Autograph Request

August 15, 1988| From Times Wire Services

GATESHEAD, England — Florence Griffith-Joyner, the women's 100-meter world-record holder, was grabbed by a spectator Sunday after declining to give him an autograph before taking part in an international track meet.

She was unhurt and went on to win the 100 meters in 11.54 seconds, more than a second off her record of 10.49 which she set at the U.S. Olympic trials at Indianapolis last month.

Just before lining up for an international select team against Britain and Hungary at Gateshead Stadium in northeast England, Griffith-Joyner was approached by a middle-aged man, who had jumped out of the crowd and asked her for an autograph.

"I told him to wait until after the race, but then he grabbed me. I was thrown by it," Griffith-Joyner said.

Officials quickly moved in to remove the man, who was allowed back into the crowd.

When the race began, the field seemed unsettled and there were two false starts.

"You can accept it when you are out walking in a crowd, but not on a track surrounded by officials," Griffith-Joyner said. "I was very shocked. It has never happened to me before."

It was Griffith-Joyner's final race in Europe before the Summer Games at Seoul, Sept. 17-Oct. 2.

It also was Edwin Moses' final European tuneup. Moses, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner and world champion, won the 400-meter hurdles in 48.67 seconds.

Britain's Max Robertson led until the sixth hurdle, but Moses then accelerated off the turn to win by six meters.

Moses, who also holds the world record and has run the event's 13 fastest times, said he found the wind in Gateshead very strong.

Britain's Fatima Whitbread, the former women's world javelin record-holder, made he first appearance in competition after an absence of seven weeks.

Whitbread injured her right shoulder at the start of the season and was then found to be suffering from glandular fever. She had a throw of 219 feet 6 inches.

In the 110-meter hurdles, Britain's Colin Jackson, the European record holder at 13.11 set at an altitude of 6,050 feet last week at Sestriere, Italy, beat the runner-up in the U.S. Olympic trials, Tonie Campbell. Jackson ran 13.36, Campbell 13.70.

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