U.S. women's 400 relay shows speed, grace Torrence anchors victors to fastest time for 1996

bronze Ottey's 7th medal

Atlanta Olympics

August 04, 1996|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- No controversy, no contest and no doubt.

Last night, the U.S. women's relay team crushed the world in the 4 x 100-meter relay at the Centennial Summer Games.

The team of Chryste Gaines, Gail Devers, Inger Miller and Gwen Torrence streaked to a gold medal in 41.95 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year.

The Bahamas (42.14) finished second. Third-place Jamaica was led by Merlene Ottey, who claimed a record-tying seventh career Olympic medal.

"We got it for everybody," said Devers, the Olympic 100 champion. "We won the gold for everybody. We won the gold for the men and everyone in the USA."

Unlike the U.S. men's 4 x 100 relay team, which bickered throughout the Games, the U.S. women remained focused, confident and controversy-free.

"It's time to forget about our individual events and just go out and have fun," said Torrence. "We're as together as we can be as a team. The relays are just the ultimate. It's the most fun you can have in the Olympics."

The victory enabled Miller to complete the Olympics' first father-daughter medal combination in track and field. Her Jamaican-born father, Lennox Miller, won a silver in 1968 and a bronze in 1972 in the men's 100.

Former Morgan State University star Rochelle Stevens ran the leadoff leg as the U.S. women won the 4 x 400 relay gold in 3: 20.91. Maicel Malone, Kim Graham and Jearl Miles completed the sweep, ahead of Nigeria (silver) and Germany (bronze).

The American men (LaMont Smith, Alvin Harrison, Derek Mills and Anthuan Maybank) also won the 4 x 400 relay in 2: 55.99, over Great Britain (silver) and Jamaica (bronze).

Algeria's magnificent miler, Noureddine Morceli, finally won the only title that had eluded him: the gold in the men's 1,500 in 3: 35.78. But to win the race, he had to elude an awful accident when Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj fell with one lap to go. Fermin Cacho, the 1992 champ, had to jump over El Guerrouj to complete the race and claim the silver. Stephen Kipkorir of Kenya won the bronze.

"I am the happiest man in Atlanta," said Morceli, whose right foot was cut in the mishap. "I achieved my goal, surprisingly, much easier than I had thought before the race.

"With this victory, I know now that I am the greatest middle distance runner of all time."

Svetlana Masterkovia of Russia added the women's 1,500-meter title to the 800 crown she won earlier. Masterkovia finished in 4: 00.83. Gabriela Szabo of Romania was second and Theresia Kiesl of Austria was third.

"The crowd was fantastic," Masterkovia said. "Thank you, America."

Usually a 1,500-meter runner, Venuste Niyongabo became Burundi's first medal winner, grabbing the gold in the men's 5,000 meters with a time of 13: 07.96.

In the women's high jump, world-record holder Stefka Kostadinova of Bulgaria won at 6-8 3/4 . And world-record holder Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic repeated as men's javelin champion at 289-3.

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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