Milestone: Joyner-Kersee is a loser in heptathlon Next-to-last in 800, she falls for 1st time since '84

Blair wins by three points

Track and field trials notebook

June 16, 1996|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- Jackie Joyner-Kersee made her fourth U.S. Olympic team last night, but something strange happened in the last three events of the heptathlon. Joyner-Kersee lost her lead and, for the first time since 1984, lost a heptathlon competition that she completed.

"In all honesty, I don't like losing," said Joyner-Kersee, who came into the final event leading by 116 points. She wound up losing to Kelly Blair by a mere three points after finishing next-to-last in the 800 meters.

It was her first loss in a completed heptathlon since finishing behind Glynis Nunn of Australia in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

"I think I can accept it," said Joyner-Kersee, 34, who was bothered by a twisted ankle and a hamstring problem during the first four events Friday. "It was meant to be. It's not so much a wake-up call. This year it's been tough getting into the groove of competition."

Jett can still make it

Kisha Jett's goal of making the finals in the women's 100 meters was not reached, but her dream of making this year's U.S. Olympic team is still alive.

After finishing a disappointing sixth in the semifinals, Jett will be back here later this week for the 200. She will spend the next few days back at the University of Florida, where the former Hammond High star is a sophomore.

"You can come in a have a great day and yesterday [Friday] was my good day; today wasn't," said Jett, who never recovered from a slow start brought on in part by nerves. "But there's no need to dwell on it."

Jett will be back at school tomorrow morning -- for a calculus class -- and back working with her coach, Tom Jones, in the afternoon. Having gotten the jitters of her first Olympic trials out of her system, Jett hopes to come back with more confidence in an event she considers her best.

"It [having run in the 100s] will definitely help," said Jett, 19. "I'm glad I got to the semis. I'll be back and try again."

Chasing the best

They call him "LoJo," which is as much a tribute to his burgeoning talent as it is a play on his name. Tonight, pole vaulter Lawrence Johnson is hoping to be called something else: a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team.

And then he is hoping for something else.

He wants to challenge the indomitable Sergei Bubka as the world's best vaulter.

"I've always believed the first goal of every competition is to win," said Johnson, who broke Scott Huffman's American record of 19 feet, 7 1/2 inches three weeks ago. "I'm not trying to place in the top three. If the conditions are right as far as the wind, then I try to go for meet and other records."

Johnson, a senior at the University of Tennessee, still has a way to go to catch Bubka's world record of 20 feet, 2 1/2 inches. But considering the progress he has made the past year, Johnson is closing the gap on the man whose videotapes he studied to learn his sport.

After easily clearing 18 feet, 4 1/2 inches on his second attempt Friday night, Johnson is the leader going into tonight's final.

Pub Date: 6/16/96

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