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Joyner-Kersee Sails Into Wind : Track and field: Gusts up to 40 m.p.h. don't deter her from titles in the long jump and hurdles. Starks breaks leg in long jump.

May 25, 1992|JULIE CART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — A wicked, gusting wind bedeviled the best efforts of an international field of athletes Sunday at the New York Games, one of only two U.S. events on track and field's international Mobil Grand Prix. A crowd of 8,842 at Colombia University's Wein Stadium alternately broiled and shivered, and athletes struggled through winds of more than 40 m.p.h. and temperatures that dropped 20 degrees in four hours.

Strong gusts periodically knocked over wind gauges placed around the track.

It hardly seemed to affect Jackie Joyner-Kersee. She took one jump in the long jump--good enough to win--then dashed across the field to win the 100-meter hurdles while the other long jumpers were still competing. Joyner-Kersee's jump of 23 feet 4 1/4 inches is the best by an American this year, and her hurdle time of 13.16 seconds into a strong head wind was good enough to beat a deep field.

In other events, Said Aouita ran a stirring come-from-behind race to win the mile in 3:58.20, Tony Dees overpowered Roger Kingdom and Greg Foster to win the 110 hurdles in 13.50, Mike Marsh--who a few weeks ago ran 19.94 in the 200--won that event Sunday in 20.10, Leroy Burrell won the 100 in 10.36 and Kevin Young won the 400 hurdles in 48.71.

Long jumper Llewellyn Starks, ranked No. 4 in the world last year, suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg as he attempted his third jump.

According to Dr. Andres Rodriguez, the meet's medical director, Starks had planted on the takeoff board when onlookers heard a sharp snap, which Rodriguez took to be the sound of the wooden board breaking.

Rodriguez said Starks landed in the pit with both his tibia and fibula breaking through his skin. Emergency medical workers applied a splint to Starks' leg, and he was taken by ambulance to Allen Pavilion at Columbia University.

The long jump competition was suspended for 20 minutes.

Carl Lewis won the long jump in 28-7 1/2, wind aided--perhaps. The wind gauge registered an aiding wind of 2.19 meters per second, but Lewis said the strongest velocity came from a west-to-east crosswind. Another swirling wind was generated as it whipped off the area behind the stadium called the Devils' Spout--where the Harlem River meets the Hudson River.

Lewis jumped 28-1 with a legal wind, but took only three jumps. He was the first jumper when competition resumed after Starks' injury, but jumped poorly and passed his next three attempts.

"After the first jump I made some adjustment," Lewis said. "After Llewellyn went down, I just couldn't get into it after that."

It was Lewis' first long jump competition of the season, and his only appearance in the event until next month's Olympic trials. Asked for his comment about Mike Powell's wind-aided jump of 29-2 1/2 last weekend, Lewis said: "The way I was able to win (the long jump) 10 years in a row was to not focus on other people. I have to think about getting myself to jump farther. That's all I can do. I expected Mike to jump 29 feet. I'll do well, too."

The women had jumped into the North long jump pit, with a stiff head wind. Lewis asked officials to allow the men to jump into the South pit, with its strong aiding wind. Joyner-Kersee smiled ruefully at the circumstance, saying she too had requested the change.

"The long jump (wind) was in your face," she said. "We tried to talk to the officials and talk them into turning the jump around to go for some really long distances, but they did not do it. I felt the runway was very fast, but I could really feel the wind."

Her one jump was enough to win. She passed her next five attempts so she could get to the starting line of the hurdles, her second-favorite event, behind the long jump. Joyner-Kersee, the world record-holder in the heptathlon, organizes her competitions so that they mimic the hectic nature of the heptathlon--allowing little more time than to change shoes.

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