Achilles' injury may sideline Everett

July 29, 1992|By Mike Downey | Mike Downey,Los Angeles Times

BARCELONA, Spain -- Danny Everett, who ran the second-fastest 400-meter time in history at last month's U.S. Olympic trials, might have to withdraw from the Summer Games.

Because an Achilles' tendon injury has been slow in mending, the former UCLA runner said yesterday, "I'm hoping for the best but I'm preparing for the worst."

Everett's pullout could affect an ongoing controversy over a coaching decision to add Michael Johnson to the American 1,600-meter relay team in place of Andrew Valmon, the New Yorker who placed fourth in the 400-meter trial in New Orleans.

Valmon could be chosen to replace Everett, although that decision also is up to the coaches.

Steve Lewis, a 1988 double gold medalist at Seoul, South Korea, strongly opposed Valmon's exclusion, saying: "I feel the 400-meter men in the trials put a lot on the line, emotionally and physically, and that Andrew earned a place on the team. If he wants to run, he ought to run.

"If [Johnson] runs, I definitely oppose that. As far as I'm concerned, he had his chance and didn't take it. The policy says he can run . . . but I disagree with that. Just because it's a policy doesn't mean it's right."

Johnson, ranked No. 1 in the world in the 200 and 400, was added to the team by U.S. track coach Mel Rosen, leading to a volatile protest by other runners that Rosen later referred to as a war of egos.

In Lewis' opinion, Rosen has been "unprofessional" and "hasn't been truthful" in dealing with Valmon.

"I don't feel Mel should make any [relay] decisions," Lewis said.

Informed of Lewis' comments, Rosen said: "I don't think it would be helpful for team morale for me to engage in a war of words because our plan is still to put our strongest [1,600] relay team on the track. They don't have to talk to each other. They just have to pass the baton."

Lewis and Everett were teammates at UCLA and on 1988's gold-medal 1,600-meter relay team that tied the world record. Lewis also won the gold, Everett the bronze in the 400 meters.

Everett said: "I'm still having trouble with my Achilles and will

have to make a decision soon that will affect the team. It doesn't really feel good, and I don't want to go out there and not do my best."

First heats of the men's 400 meters will be run Saturday.

Still hoping for an unlikely invitation to join the U.S. 400-meter relay team is America's more famous Lewis, Carl, who proclaimed yesterday, "I'm in the best shape I've been in all year and maybe in my life."

The six-time gold medalist said the decision was up to Rosen, adding: "I don't want to start anything that can be misconstrued. I'll be there for them, cheering, and if I am called, I will be ready to run."

Lewis said a sinus infection that weakened him during and after the trials is no longer a problem.

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