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Injury Threatens Torrence in 200

June 22, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ Today’s challenge for the sprinters at the Olympic Track and field trials was to run 200 meters in the Georgia heat and humidity, not once but twice, first in the quarterfinals and then the semifinals.

And for Gail Torrence, it was more complicated than that.

Torrence was nursing a sore left thigh that could doom her chances to defend her Olympic 200 gold medal. She is already on the team in the 100, but was visibly downcast following her 200 race Friday night.

``My thigh is hurting real bad,″ she said. ``But I’m going to gut it out and try to make the team. I’m going to think positive and pray. The thigh was tight in the 100 meters. It hurt worse in the last 15 meters of the final.″

Torrence said she is being treated with ice, ultrasound, electric stimulation and stretching. ``It hurts the worst on the turn,″ she said. ``I’m gonna do what I have to do.″

What she must do is battle a difficult schedule. Today’s two women’s 200s were scheduled just 90 minutes apart and the men 10 minutes less than that, precious little recovery time. Carl Lewis, who advanced in the men’s 200 with a strong race, said the schedule will be a problem.

``It will be very difficult with the heat,″ he said. ``It’s an under-rated factor. There will be casualties because of the schedule in that event.″

With her problems, Torrence was timed in 23.07 seconds, easing off in the last 10 meters.

Lewis ran a 20.30 for his 200, within a second of his personal best set 13 years ago. He had considered passing on the race after qualifying for his fifth Olympics in the long jump. His time was fifth fastest of the night and after running, he was excited about his race and his prospects for today and Sunday.

``Let them know I’ve got my legs back,″ he said. ``I felt strong and powerful, like myself again. I know I can run as fast as anybody. When I’m 100 percent, I can run with anybody. I can run the 200 meters very well. I have a good shot at winning and making the team.″

Also advancing were the usual speedy suspects _ Michael Johnson, bidding for an unprecedented 200-400 Olympic double; Jeff Williams; and Michael Marsh. Williams, who has predicted he would end Johnson’s 20-race winning streak at the distance, was fastest in 20.10. Marsh was first in his heat in 20.34 and Johnson won his heat in a comfortable 20.61.

``I wanted to work on making the transfer from the 400 to the 200,″ Johnson said. ``The most important thing was getting out of the blocks hard and more aggressive. The rounds are real tricky and you have to make decisions as you go. With three rounds, you’re not going out there to impress anyone. You go out there to survive.″

Mary Slaney did not manage that in the women’s 1,500-meter semifinals. Already on the team in 5,000 meters, Slaney finished well back in the 1,500, timed in 4:15.85, well behind Kathy Franey, who did 4:10.76.

Steve Holman posted the fastest time in the men’s 1,500 semifinals with 3:44.28.

American record-holder Gail Devers had the second fastest time in the first round of the women’s 100 hurdles with 12.83, behind Lynda Tolbert-Goode’s 12.78, and Allen Johnson led the advancers in the men’s 110 hurdles with 13.18.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee led her group in the long jump despite a cramp in her left quad. In the women’s shot put, Connie Price-Smith led with 60 feet, 10 3/4 inches. Matt Hemingway and Rick Noji led advancers in the men’s high jump with 7-4 1/4.

After five events in the decathlon, Chris Huffins led with 4,687 points, followed by Dan O’Brien with 4,618, and Steve Fritz was third with 4,445. Huffins jumped in front in the first event with a 10.22 100, the fastest in the history of the decathlon.

In finals, Bob Kennedy, Matt Giusto and Ronnie Harris made the men’s 5,000 meters team, Mark Croghan, Robert Gary and Marc Davis made the team in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Katherine Fonshell, Olga Appell and Joan Nesbit made it in the women’s 10,000 meters.

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