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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Track Fans Missing Out on Marquee Showdown

April 20, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

I have seen the future of track and field. Some day, somewhere, there is going to be a phenomenal race between Maurice Greene and Ato Boldon.

But I'm impatient. I wanted it to happen Sunday in the Mt. San Antonio College Relays in Walnut.

John Smith, however, didn't want it to happen.

As the man who coaches Greene and Boldon for the Hold Speed International track club in Westwood, he has the final say. What he said was that Greene would run the 200 meters and Boldon the 100.

All Greene did was set the meet record in 20.03 seconds. Then Boldon made that performance seem almost pedestrian, running a 9.86 in the 100 that has been bettered by only two sprinters, Donovan Bailey's 9.84 and Leroy Burrell's 9.85.

What could have been if Greene, who ran 9.86 in winning last year's world championship, and Boldon, the 200-meter world champion, had run against each other in the 100 on the fast track at Mt. SAC?

"You could have seen something under 9.80," Smith said.

So why didn't we see it?

In a sport desperate for attention, especially in the United States, a race like that would have created headlines that screamed from the front page of virtually every sports section in the world.

Smith explained so that even a critic like me, who believes the No. 1 problem with the sport is that the best runners too seldom compete against each other, understood.

It's possible both Greene and Boldon could have run faster than Bailey's world record. But it's also possible, Smith said, they would have sought an extra gear enabling them to run faster than their bodies were prepared to run this early in the season.

As anyone who saw the match race last year between Michael Johnson and Bailey knows, that's risky. It was a risk Smith wasn't willing to take.

Smith said Greene, 23, and Boldon, 24, will run against each other many times in the coming months and years and predicted that they will push each other to Olympic and world championship medals and world records, perhaps one as fast as 9.76.

Meantime?

"You can see them run against each other five or six times a day at UCLA," said Emmanuel Hudson, HSI's manager. "It's a public place."

They should sell tickets.

*

Don't expect Bill Fitch to make it easy for Donald Sterling to change coaches. . . .

Sterling, who doesn't like to pay people for not working for him, wants to buy out the last two years of Fitch's contract at a reduced rate . . .

But people who know Fitch say he will insist on the entire $4 million, even if he has to wait until 2000 to get all of it. . . .

No wonder Fred Claire felt sick to his stomach last week. . . .

Pedro Martinez was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. . . .

As if that weren't reminder enough of Claire's ill-fated deal with Montreal for Delino DeShields, a Boston Globe headline last week read: "No Mistaking Martinez's Genius." . . .

Well, no one has mistaken it lately. . . .

The L.A. Marathon's Bill Burke no doubt was envious when he saw those times Sunday from Rotterdam. . . .

But I doubt he could find a course that flat west of Kansas. . . .

Sign of the times: When San Diego selected Ryan Leaf with the second choice in the NFL draft, he hugged his agent, Leigh Steinberg, before he did his family. . . .

There have been questions about San Diego GM Bobby Beathard's trade of a No. 1 choice in 2000 for the 59th pick Saturday. . . .

Look at it like this: If the Chargers improve as rapidly as Beathard believes they will, the No. 1 in 2000 won't be all that high anyway. If they don't, Beathard won't be there to answer for it. . . .

A better question for Beathard is how the Chargers fell from a Super Bowl team in 1995 to one that has the second pick in the first round in 1998. . . .

Notre Dame Coach Bob Davie claimed last season that Lou Holtz didn't leave much talent behind. . . .

Holtz claimed he did. . . .

Now we know who was telling the truth. The Irish had one player drafted. . . .

At least they don't have to concede bragging rights to USC, which also had one player drafted. . . .

It's the first time in 50 years the Trojans haven't had at least two. . . .

I heard so much about the character issue during the first day of the draft that I thought I was watching "Meet the Press."

*

While wondering if anyone guessed we'd ever see the day when more people cared about character on NFL teams than in the White House, I was thinking: Mt. SAC wasn't the same without Carl Lewis, Del Harris and his team look like they will be around longer than it seemed a month ago, say it ain't so, Jerry.

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