Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Johnson-Bailey Race More Than 150 Meters of Hype

May 29, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

What's the most hyped event ever that was all but guaranteed to last less than 15 seconds?

No, it's not a Gerry Cooney fight.

It's the long-awaited $2-million match race Sunday in Toronto's Skydome between Olympic gold medalists Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson.

Promoters took the sprinters' world-record distances--Bailey's 100 and Johnson's 200--and split the difference, creating a 150-meter race they say will determine the world's fastest man.

Whether or not that's true, the race already has accomplished the equivalent of a three-minute mile, getting the attention of sports fans who think track is run only in Olympic years.

Most track fans couldn't be more enthused. I say most. There's a minority out there who, like the dinosaurs from "The Lost World," are making noise. They believe the race is impure, presumably because the distance isn't recognized by the Old Testament.

"In the minds of track's cognoscenti, this race will not prove a darn thing, other than making both runners that much richer," says Cecil Smith, a prominent Canadian track and field official.

Don Potts begs to differ.

A retired Cal State Northridge professor from Santa Barbara, Potts is one of the world's experts on the history of sprinting.

Those who argue in favor of the 100's tradition should get their facts straight, he said.

"In 19th-century England, the first professional races had a standard distance of 130 yards," he said. "The standard distance in Australia was 150 yards.

"They knew the 100 was too short. The start becomes too important. The ideal distance would be 130 meters, but the 150 is a better race than the 100."

Potts' only quarrel with the race is that it doesn't include Frankie Fredericks, last summer's silver medalist in the 100 and 200. Potts said the Namibian would beat Johnson and Bailey.

As it is, Potts favors Johnson.

"Bailey will be ahead at 120 meters, but Johnson will get him in the last 30 meters," he said. "Michael's better on the curve."

*

Speaking of rivalries, there's one brewing between the WNBA's Sparks and the ABL's Long Beach team. The latter doesn't have a coach, or even a nickname, but it does have an arena, the Pyramid. . . .

According to Spark officials, they were blocked by the Long Beach team from playing a June 15 exhibition at the Pyramid against Cheryl Miller's Phoenix team. They'll play instead at Long Beach City College. . . .

The Sparks practiced for the first time Wednesday. They are excited about the potential of 6-foot-2 Mwadi Mabika, a veteran of the Zaire (People's Republic of Congo?) national team. . . .

Countryman Dikembe Mutombo is sponsoring her stay in the United States. His brother, Tchitengo, is her manager. . . .

The Long Beach Ice Dogs also are having arena problems. They play the first two games of the IHL's Turner Cup finals in Detroit on Friday and Sunday, then have eight days off before a home game while waiting for a Salvation Army convention to move out of the Long Beach Arena. . . .

Shall we gather at the Pond? That wasn't a viable option, although notorious gate-crasher Scott Kerman says the arena at Anaheim is one of the easiest to sneak into. . . .

Toughest, he says, are the Forum and Madison Square Garden. . . .

When the Arizona Rattlers and Florida Bobcats meet in an Arena Football League game Saturday night at the Sports Arena, the most famous men on the field will be the coaches, former quarterbacks Danny White for Arizona and Babe Parilli for Florida. . . .

The local team should make that big trade that's been debated in the media. I'm not talking about the Dodgers and Eric Karros. I'm talking about the Galaxy and Eduardo Hurtado. . . .

Galaxy Coach Lothar Osiander says Hurtado should forget his aching knees and "put ice between his ears." . . .

Boston Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette says all he knows about that Karros and Pedro Astacio trade for Mo Vaughn is what he reads in the papers. Duquette says the deal is a media invention. . . .

Would we do that? Read all about it in Oscar, a new magazine about sportswriters. It's named for Oscar Madison. . . .

Now here's an odd couple. A promoter for the Scottish golf resort Skibo Island is trying to arrange a match between two young royals, Prince Andrew and Tiger Woods. . . .

Wonder no more about the effects of aging. I remember when Prince Andrew wanted to play only with Koo Stark.

*

While wondering how people will tell GQ and Oscar apart, I was thinking: I'm going with the Detroit Red Wings, Michael Johnson and Tiger.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|