Johnson out of 200 Marsh sets world mark It's a frenzied day in track and field

August 06, 1992|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,Staff Writer

BARCELONA, Spain -- Welcome to the circus.

The official gold-medal lock of the 1992 Summer Olympics, 200-meter man Michael Johnson, lost, and Mike Marsh jogged his way out of a world record.

Sandra Farmer-Patrick and Janeene Vickers finished 2-3 for the United States in the women's 400-meter hurdles finals.

And Dave almost pulled a Dan.

It was just your average, frenzied, track and field program at the 1992 Summer Olympics last night.

The big news: Say goodbye to Johnson, the sprinter from Baylor who was scorched in the 200 semifinals, finishing sixth in his heat in 20.78 seconds.

Turns out Johnson, the 1991 world champion, came to Barcelona still battling the effects of a virus that attacked him last month after he ate a dinner in Salamanca.

"I'm still happy of achieving my dream of making the Olympic team," he said. "But I had it in the back of my mind that this might happen."

Johnson lost 10 pounds and a week's worth of training while ill. He also lost the kick that made him the most feared performer in the 200. But coming off the curve, he wasn't in the lead. He wasn't even close to Namibia's Frank Fredericks.

"I've done things in the past that have amazed people," Johnson said. "This is the Olympic Games. It's something I wanted. But life goes on." Marsh was ready, winning his heat in the 200 in 19.73, an American and Olympic record that was just .01 behind the 13-year-old world mark set by Italy's Pietro Mennea in Mexico City.

"I turned it off a little bit at the end because I'll have to do this again in the final," said Marsh, 24, of Houston. "I think it will be possible to set a world record then."

Farmer-Patrick, who raced for Jamaica at the 1984 Games, arrived in Barcelona hoping for gold. But she was beaten to the finish in the women's 400 hurdles by Great Britain's Sally Gunnell, who won in 53.23. Farmer-Patrick took the silver in 53.69, and Vickers earned the bronze in 54.31.

In the first day of the decathlon, American medal-hope Dave Johnson proved that three fouls doesn't necessarily mean you are out.

You saw Dan O'Brien pull a no-height to lose in the U.S. trials. Well, there was almost a "no put" in the shot by Johnson when he was called for three consecutive fouls.

But after a referee reversed the third foul, and the judges couldn't find a mark, Johnson got a fourth chance and recorded a personal best of 50 feet, 1 3/4 inches.

"For a few moments, I thought, 'Oh, man, bummer, I'm finished,' But I did like I was told and I got back in the competition."

Johnson, the best second-day performer in the world, was ninth with 4,154 points, but within striking range of Germany's Paul Meier, the leader with 4,510, and second-place performer Robert Zmelik, of Czechoslovakia, with 4,435 points.

However, the Los Angeles Times reported today that Johnson is apparently suffering from a stress fracture in his right foot.

"It's all about the foot. I can't talk about it right now. I'll tell you tomorrow. It'll all come out," he said.

Asked if he had a stress fracture, Johnson responded, "Maybe."

In the men's 800, 32-year-old Johnny Gray of the United States tried to avoid trouble with a front-running strategy, but he was tripped from behind and finished third in 1:43.97. At least he finished. Gray's American teammate Mark Everett also was clipped, hit the track, and never made a move to finish.

William Tanui of Kenya won the gold in 1:43.66, and his teammate, Nixon Kiprotich took the bronze in 1:43.70.

"Without the trip, I definitely could have run better," Gray said. "It just hit me with about 140 meters to go. But I will tell you this, without Johnny Gray in the race, you can't have an exciting race."

Lithuanian Romas Ubartas threw the discus 213 feet, 7 3/4 inches to win the gold, his country's first-ever Olympic medal.

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