HOUSTON — Sandra Farmer-Patrick shattered the U.S. record in the women's 400-meter hurdles, and her husband, David Patrick, won the men's 400 hurdles, completing a rare double in the Mobil / The Athletics Congress Outdoor Track and Field Championships Saturday night at the University of Houston.
Farmer-Patrick, a Jamaican native who became a U.S. citizen last year, shortly before the U.S. Olympic trials, was timed in 53.75 seconds.
That easily broke the U.S. record of 54.23 set by Judi Brown-King in 1987. The world record is 52.94 by Marina Stepanova of the Soviet Union.
About 15 minutes later, David Patrick won the men's event in 48.83, making the Patricks the first husband-wife team in 29 years to win titles in the same national championships.
In 1960, Harold Connolly won the hammer throw, and his then-wife, Olga, won the discus.
Both of the Patricks had different reasons for being elated after their accomplishment.
"I'm happiest about winning together," Farmer-Patrick said.
"I'm happiest about her record," David said.
After his wife set the U.S. record, Patrick said he felt extra pressure.
"I was thinking before the gun went off a lot of people were comparing us to the last couple that won it 29 years ago," he said.
"I thought, 'I've got a lot riding on this.' "
Farmer-Patrick, the top-ranked U.S. hurdler last year even though she failed to make the Olympic team and ranked No. 5 in the world, ran the fastest woman's hurdles race in the world this year and as a result is the No. 9 performer in history.
She started quickly, took command early and kept widening her advantage in winning by about 15 meters over Vicki Fulcher, the runner-up in 55.87.
Farmer-Patrick, 26, has competed internationally since 1981 when she was a freshman at Arizona. She finished eighth in the 1984 Olympics and was second in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. championships that year.
She also was second in the 1986 and 1987 U.S. championships.
However, in her first opportunity to make the U.S. Olympic team last year, she failed. A favorite not only to make the team but to win the final, she was disqualified for running out of lane in the semifinals after winning.
In the men's 400 hurdles, Patrick won his third national championship--his first since 1984--by overcoming Reggie Davis in the homestretch.
Kevin Henderson also passed Davis just before the finish, taking second in 49.05 with Davis third in 49.06.
The hurdles were among 20 finals on the last day of the five-day championships at Robertson Stadium.
The biggest upsets occured in the men's 1,500 meters and men's 400.
Terrence Herrington, the 1985 national junior champion and a senior at Clemson this year, passed veterans Steve Scott and Jeff Atkinson in the final 100 meters to win the 1,500 in 3:46.83.
"I got behind them with 200 to go," said Herrington, 22, who was injured last year. "I didn't want to pass them until the last 100 because I don't think they knew I was there and I wanted to surprise them."
Atkinson, winner of last year's Olympic trials, finished second in 3:47.25, and Scott, a six-time national champion and three-time Olympian, was third in 3:47.48.
In the 400, Antonio Pettigrew, a sophomore at Miami Dade South Community College, won in 44.27, the fastest time in the world this year. It tied him for the No. 7 performer in U.S. history.
In winning, Pettigrew, 21, the national community college champion, beat two-time national champion Mark Rowe by three meters. Rowe was second in 44.71.
Two other little-known winners were Kamy Keshmiri, formerly of UCLA, and Brian Brown, a senior at Northwestern Louisiana this year.
Keshmiri, 20, won the men's discus with a toss of 218 feet 2 inches, a personal best. Mac Wilkins, 38, a seven-time national champion and 1976 Olympic gold medalist, was unable to compete because of a right shoulder injury.
Brown, 22, won the men's high jump by clearing 7-7 1/4, beating U.S record-holder Hollis Conway of Southwestern Louisiana, who cleared 7-6.
Joining Herrington, Pettigrew, Keshmiri and Brown on the U.S. World Cup team, was long jumper Larry Myricks, 33.
Myricks, the 1979 World Cup champion, the 1988 Olympic bronze medalist and ranked first, second or third in the world for the each of the past 10 years, leaped 28-6 1/2, the best in the world this year. Olympic silver medalist Mike Powell finished second in a wind-aided 27-11 1/2.
Kory Tarpenning and Tim Bright each cleared 19 feet in the pole vault, but Tarpenning won on fewer misses.
Other winners included Floyd Heard in the men's 200 meters in 20.09, equaling the fastest time in the world this year; Olympian Brian Diemer in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase in 8:26.45; Olympian Dannette Young in the women's 200 in 22.29, a stadium record; Sheila Hudson in the women's triple jump at 45-6 1/2; Regina Jacobs in the women's 1,500 meters in 4:11.80, and Rochelle Stevens in the women's 400 in 50.75, a stadium record.
Also, U.S. record-holder Johnny Gray in the men's 800 meters in 1:46.17; Olympian Joetta Clark in the women's 800 meters in 2:01.42; Olympian PattiSue Plumer in the women's 3,000 meters in 9:00.05; Laverne Eve of the Bahamas in the women's javelin at 212-6, a stadium record; Ramona Pagel in the women's shotput at 62-0 1/2, and Olympian Tim Lewis in the men's 20-kilometer walk in 1:27:19.