Jumpers had reason to leap a bit farther

June 18, 1996|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- The U.S. Olympic track and field trials accidentally introduced a new demonstration sport here yesterday: the full-contact long jump. Or was that the hammer-jump?

It happened while the long jumpers, including Carl Lewis, were warming up and the hammer throwers were in the midst of their qualifying competition. Brian Murer threw the 16-pound hammer clear across the long jump runway. Ken Norlan threw one that landed within 10 feet of Lewis.

"I just hooked it a little," Murer joked later. "It looked a little like Tiger Woods on 16 [at the U.S. Open], huh? I'd like to be known as someone who made the Olympic team rather than potentially killing Carl Lewis."

Norlan said it was the third time in his career that he inadvertently threw a hammer onto a track. On two other occasions, he has witnessed other athletes hit by the hammer, including one who was killed. The fact that no one was injured gave Norlan the opportunity to joke about the potential of combining the two events.

"I thought if it [the hammer] had made it into the long jump pit they could measure them both," said Norlan. "Maybe I can help them run faster."

Lewis, who qualified with the sixth-best jump overall of 26 feet, 4 1/4 inches, knew it could have been worse. They could have been holding qualifying for the javelin instead.

NOTES: Reigning national champion Meredith Rainey, who lives in Silver Spring, ran the fastest time in the world this year to win last night's 800-meter final by a wide margin over two-time national champion Joetta Clark. It was the second time Rainey had made the Olympic team, and the third for Clark.

"My plan was to stay in the top three and to go with how my body felt," said Rainey, whose time of 1: 57.04 was a personal best. "I was really surprised."

John Godina became the first U.S. athlete since 1924 to make the Olympics in both the javelin and the shot put.

Former Morgan State star Rochelle Stevens qualified for her second straight final in the 400-meters of the Olympic trials. Stevens won the final of the 1992 trials in New Orleans and was the only American to reach the final of the Barcelona Olympics, where she finished sixth.

"To me it was like a final," said Stevens, who finished third in her heat and fifth overall in a time of 50.65 seconds. "Each day I run fast and finish in the top two, but I still get a bad draw for lanes. . . I feel like a rabbit."

Pub Date: 6/18/96

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