Limping Joyner-Kersee, 33, still has step on rest

June 16, 1995|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Jackie Joyner-Kersee is either limping, wheezing or getting massaged.

She keeps an asthma inhaler tucked away in her tights, and a massage table near her training sites -- showing the signs of fatigue, injuries and age.

"It is challenging coping with the problems," said Joyner-Kersee, 33. "That's what I find interesting and exciting. To excel, that's why I keep doing it."

Even on one leg in rainy weather and gusting winds that topped 20 mph, Joyner-Kersee is still one of the world's greatest athletes. She nursed a sore left hamstring through two days to win the heptathlon with 6,375 points last night at the USA Mobil Track & Field Championships at Hughes Stadium despite the poor weather conditions. Kym Carter and Kelly Blair each had 6,354 points, but Carter took second on the basis of a 4-3 head-to-head event record.

Joyner-Kersee, competing in her fourth USA championship, had her worst first day in 10 years Wednesday, but still had a 20-point lead over Carter. And then she beat both the pain and Carter yesterday.

Joyner-Kersee long jumped 22 feet 3 inches, threw the javelin 136-11 and painfully ran the 800 meters in 2:26.39 with some type of breathing device covering her mouth.

Dan O'Brien was leading the decathlon with 6,518 points after seven events and heading into the pole vault, which was delayed for two hours because of the weather. Chris Huffins was second with 6,401 points.

Joyner-Kersee's point total was off her world record of 7,291 points in the 1988 Olympics, but that wasn't important. Yesterday's total was the worst since the '84 Olympics.

Nagging injuries, like the hamstring and Achilles' tendinitis, have bugged Joyner-Kersee all season. Her goal was to place among the top three finishers here, which would put her in the World Championships later this summer in Goteborg, Sweden.

"I have to focus more now than ever before," said Joyner-Kersee. "I just can't go out there and do it like before. Everything, from practice to competition, has to be calculated and precise. A body can only take so much punishment."

Husband and trainer Bob Kersee said: "Like everyone else, I measure Jackie up to that world record. But to see how long she has held up, and what she has accomplished, well, it's kind of amazing."

Three Olympic gold medals, a silver and a bronze. She has won four world titles and set four world records. She still holds the top six marks all time in the heptathlon.

In a decade that has seen Michael, Magic and Larry retire, Magic and Michael unretire, and Mike Tyson go to jail and get released, she continues on, like the Energizer Bunny.

The performances haven't always been overwhelming, but that just shows the gap between Joyner-Kersee and the rest of the field. Her total yesterday (her worst in more than a decade) still was four points better than Carter's previous best.

And Joyner-Kersee still has that competitive edge. She wants to win an Olympic gold medal on American soil, something she failed to do when she lost the gold by five points in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

"That would be great, to win at home in front of friends and family," said the modest Joyner-Kersee. "It's a motivating factor."

In other developments, all the top contenders, Michael Johnson, Darnell Hall, Butch Reynolds, Derek Mills and Marlon Ramsey, advanced out of the preliminary heats of the 400. Johnson had the best time of 45.16. Hall was second at 45.23.

In the men's 100 meters preliminary, Carl Lewis advanced to the semifinals with a time of 10.23.

Decathlete Aric Long, in 10th, was removed from the competition after injuring his shoulder in the pole vault, and gold medalist Gwen Torrence was questionable in the 100-meter semifinals after aggravating a knee injury.

(Race distances in meters)

MEN

Hammer (top 12 qualify)

1, Lance Deal, New York AC, 238 feet, 2 inches. 2, David Popejoy, Stanford, 227-8. 3, Kevin McHahon, Georgetown, 220-1. James Driscoll, New York AC, 218-0. 5, John Walker, Boston AA, 216-9. 6, Brian Murer, Southern Methodist, 216-3. 7, Steve Dering, New York AC, 214-7.

8, Louis Chisari, New York AC, 214-0. 9, Scott Sergeant, Triton TC, 211-3. 10, Craig Carter, unattached, 207-7. 11, Toby Norwood, Stanford, 206-7. 12, Mark McGehearty, Boston College, 204-6. 13, Stephen Desantis, unattached, 201-5. 14, David Lunde, Sacramento TC, 201-0.

15, Kenneth Norlen, Sacramento TC, 200-8. 16, Darren Zaylor, American Big Guys, 200-1. 17, Peter Cyr, Sallie Mae TC, 200-0. 18, Scott McGee, New York AC, 199-4. 19, Sean McGehearty, Boston College, 196-9. 20, James Parker, Utah State, 194-10. 21, David McKenzie, 192-10.

DECATHLON

110-meter hurdles

Heat 11, Steve Fritz, Acccusplit Sports, 14.09 seconds, 963 points. 2, Rob Muzzio, VISA TC, 14.55, 905. 3, Kip Janvrin, VISA TC, 14.77, 878. 4, Steve Rowland, VISA TC, 15.08, 840. 5, Ray Livingston, Oregon, 15.20, 825. 6, Tage Peterson, Azusa Pacific, 15.98, 735.

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