Joyner-Kersee twists ankle on high jump She's still far out front in heptathlon competition

Track trials notebook

June 15, 1996|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- The 10-day U.S. Olympic track and field trials took an interesting twist within an hour after they began yesterday at Olympic Stadium.

Three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic women's heptathlon gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee twisted her left ankle on her first attempt at the high jump.

"I twisted it on 5-4," Joyner-Kersee said later. "Bobby [Kersee, her coach and husband] thought the rain would come so he wanted me to get a jump in. When I took off, it felt like my foot was coming out of my shoe."

The rain never came, but Joynee-Kersee recovered quickly. Having already won the 110-meter hurdles, Joyner-Kersee cleared 5-10 to finish second in the high jump, then won both the shot put and the 200 meters.

She finished the first day's events in her accustomed place -- first. But she also seemed to aggravate the injury as she turned down the stretch in the 200.

A substantial lead over Heather Sterlin became a smaller one, and Joyner-Kersee appeared to test the ankle on the track. Her brother, Al Joyner, later said that Joyner-Kersee had leg spasms.

"None of us are on her level," said DeDee Nathan, who is in second place, nearly 400 points behind, with three events to go. "You need to concentrate on PR-ing [achieving a personal best] for your own score. I'm trying to get back in July."


Reality check

Kisha Jett had no trepidations going into her first Olympic trials. In fact, the former Hammond High School and current University of Florida star was realistic about her chances in the 100 meters.

Asked if she could compete with the likes of Gwen Torrence, Gail Devers and Carlette Guidry, Jett said, "I'm nowhere in that category. I'm not close. They're on a completely different level. They've been doing it a long time and I've got a way to go."

But not that far. Jett, a 19-year-old sophomore, ran an impressive 11.35 seconds to finish third in her heat behind Guidry and Celena Mondie-Milner to reach the last quarterfinals.

"I would like to make the finals," said Jett. "If going into the year I listened to the predictions, I wouldn't do as well as I have."

Jett still has a chance to make the final. After starting in the lane next to Torrence in the quarterfinals, Jett overcame her own nerves and two false starts (one by Torrence) to finish fourth and advance into today's semifinals. Guidry, considered one of the top hopes to make the team, was eliminated. It appeared that Jett got off to a slow start.

"When you're racing against people like that, you're going to look slow," said Jett. "But I'm really happy. I've made it farther than I did last year [when she barely got into the semifinals and finished a distant seventh]. Now I'll try to take the next step."

Other local athletes to advance included Torrance Zellner of Woodlawn in the men's 400-meter hurdles and Meredith Rainey in the women's 800 meters. Chris Fox of Hagerstown advanced to the final in the men's 10,000 meters.

Pub Date: 6/15/96

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