So no one can say the only news printed about track and field is bad: As we witnessed during the weekend, the Penn Relays in Philadelphia are going strong at 100, as are the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, at 85.
Carl Lewis, a New Jersey native, once considered the Penn Relays a home meet, but he has not been back since he was on the receiving end of a snide remark a couple of years ago by meet benefactor Bill Cosby. The former Temple University high jumper apparently had no appreciation for the unique Santa Monica Track Club uniforms designed by Lewis and friends.
Penn's loss was Drake's gain. Bob Erhart, the meet director in Des Moines, was so excited by Lewis' offer to run there for the first time this year that an invitational 100 meters was added to the program for the world record-holder. He won in 10.28 seconds, but the most impressive number of the day was the attendance of almost 18,000 despite snowy conditions.
Now for the bad news: Officials for the premier outdoor invitational meet in the United States, the New York Games, decided only last week to go ahead with plans for the May 22 meet; the June 4 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., is cutting its budget; and the June 11 Indy Games in Indianapolis might be canceled. All are having difficulty finding sponsors. The U.S. Track and Field Assn. continues to trumpet the sport's bright future. But what about the present?
Willie Banks is going to Atlanta, but, unfortunately for those who miss his enthusiasm on the triple jump runway, it will not be as a competitor.
Banks, 38, has retired from the sport and is working as the assistant venue director for World Cup soccer games at the Rose Bowl. One month after the July 17 final, he will report to the committee organizing the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta to direct athletes services in the Olympic village.
Less than three weeks after starting at point guard for North Carolina's NCAA championship women's basketball team, freshman Marion Jones of Thousand Oaks won the 100 and the long jump and finished second in the 200 in the Atlantic Coast Conference track and field meet.
She is the best combination track/basketball athlete since heptathlon world record-holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who started for four years in basketball for UCLA. The best combination track/basketball male athlete? Track historians point to Walter (Buddy) Davis, the 1952 Olympic high jump champion who also was a basketball All-American for Texas A&M. Other names to consider are high jumper Bill Russell and triple jumper David Thompson.
Eamonn Coghlan, the first man over 40 to break the four-minute mile, retired two weeks ago, but he already is making a comeback. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first four-minute mile, he and 14 others who have held the world record in the event will take part in a special run Saturday on the same Iffley Road track in Oxford, England, on which Roger Bannister broke the barrier.
Andy Norman, the former promotions director for British track and field who lost his job after a journalist he allegedly spread rumors about committed suicide, broke his silence. In a five-page statement, he expressed "deep personal sorrow" over the death of Cliff Temple of the Times of London but denied the allegations. "Various elements in a complicated story have been taken completely out of context," he said.
The British Athletic Federation said it found no evidence to substantiate the rumors that Temple harassed an athlete he coached.