At Emory University in Atlanta, where sprinter Gwen Torrence
Jun. 13, 1995
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ At Emory University in Atlanta, where sprinter Gwen Torrence and about a half-dozen teammates work out, Kevin Young occasionally shows up.
When Young appears, Torrence's energy level rises dramatically.
Young is the world record-holder in the men's 400-meter hurdles, and Torrence relishes running against him _ and beating him _ if possible.
``He goes over the hurdles and I go on the flat (over 400 meters),'' said Torrence, top-ranked in the world in the 100 and 200 and No. 6 in the 400.
``If he's not on his Ps and Qs, I'll get him. I'm very intense and aggressive in practice and I take that with me to the races.
``I got him once ... and after I put it to him, he had to take a rest. I train with other guys, too. I'm not afraid of them.''
This week, Torrence will have to content herself with running against women in the USA-Mobil Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which begin Wednesday at Hughes Stadium. She is entered in the 100 and 200 in quest of her second national title at the shorter distance and her fifth at the longer route.
However, she hasn't worked out in the past two weeks because of a strained tendon behind her right knee and might withdraw from the 100, which she has yet to run in competition this year.
In the 200, she is the world leader with a time of 22.04 seconds. And even if she scratches from the 100, Torrence is expected to compete in the 200.
Surprisingly, the 200 is her least favorite event, even though she has more success at it, including winning the 1992 Olympic gold medal.
She enjoys the 100 because of its glamor and the 400 because of its intrigue.
``The 100 ... everyone wants to be the world's fastest woman,'' Torrence said. ``It's the golden race, it's the money race.
``I'm passionate about the 400 because I haven't beaten the (Olympic) champion (Marie-Jose Perec of France) yet. The first time I raced her I was scared. I had never raced against someone who went out that fast. I'm not scared of her now.
``My husband (Manley Waller) thinks I'm better in the 200 and 400.''
Despite all her success, including a silver and a bronze medal in the 100 at the World Championships, two silvers in the 200 at the worlds and being the first American ranked No. 1 in the world in both sprints since Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988, Torrence still isn't a familiar figure to some track fans.
At last month's New York Games, a spectator yelled at her, ``Come on, Jackie,'' confusing her with Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Other times she is mistaken for Gail Devers. Sometimes she is called Gail Torrence, other times Gwen Devers.
``Everybody here still calls me Jackie, but at least they've heard of Gwen Torrence now,'' she said after winning the 200 at New York with the year's fastest time.
Torrence is one of the sport's most outspoken athletes. After finishing fourth in the 100 at the 1992 Olympics, she claimed that three of the seven other women in the race were using performance-enhancing drugs.
She did not accuse specific individuals or offer any proof, and later apologized, saying it ``made me look like a sore loser.''
But she did it, she said, because ``I am deeply committed to the need to get rid of drugs in sports, as well as use by American kids on the streets.''
The previous year, after finishing second to Katrin Krabbe in the 100 and 200 at the World Championships, she accused the German of being a drug user. Krabbe later was banned for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Clenbuterol, and Torrence felt vindicated.
She has not spoken publicly about that matter since the Barcelona Games. She has let her running be her sounding board. And that has spoken volumes.