NEW ORLEANS -- Carl Lewis is a week shy of his 31st birthday, struggling in heat and humidity that hangs like a giant rubber suit over Tad Gormley Stadium.
The Olympic gold medals and moments are in the past, now. The present stares him in the face each time he takes the track and lines up against kids in the 100 or world-record holder Mike Powell in the long jump.
Last night, it was Powell who dominated the long jump at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
With a leap of 28 feet 3 1/2 inches, Powell beat Lewis for the second time in 10 months and emerged as the gold medal favorite.
Lewis, rebounding after a sixth-place finish in the 100, was second at 28-0. Joe Greene was third at 27-1 1/4 .
Once, Lewis owned the long jump, winning two straight Olympic medals, ripping off 65 straight wins. But then came Tokyo and the 1991 world championships, and the sport was turned upside down when Powell won with a world-record 29-4 1/2 .
"I've been under the weather this entire week," Lewis said. "I felt better than I did Saturday [in the 100]. By the end of the week I'll be able to run well. I'm pleased to be on the team."
Lewis said he had no concerns about making the U.S. team in an individual event. Still, he was excited when the event ended, waving a flag and posing for pictures with Powell.
"I'm relieved," he said. "But I would have been relieved had I made it in the 100. Now, I'm celebrating that I have an opportunity to go back to the Olympics in the long jump.
"Will this be my swan song?" he said. "I don't think so. I'll just compete and compete and compete."
Powell also had physical problems. He took nearly a month off after injuring a hamstring and a vertebra in his back. He also was hospitalized 10 days ago because of food poisoning.
"I'm going to need to go home and get rest, therapy and training," Powell said. "About two weeks ago, I couldn't even stride on the track. Now, I can go to the show."
Powell closed the first round with a leading jump of 27-10 3/4 , while Lewis struggled at 26-4 1/2 . It wasn't until the third round when the drama began -- and ended. Lewis leaped 28, and Powell responded with his jump, 3 1/2 inches farther.
"My goal is to go farther in Barcelona," Powell said. "I'm sure Carl's goal is the gold medal, too."