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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Slaney Makes Atlanta Games, Lewis Might Not

ATLANTA -- Meredith Rainey had just run the fastest 800 meters of her life, the third fastest ever by an American, to win at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials.


Still, her time Monday of 1 minute 57.04 seconds was more than a tenth of a second behind the American record set 11 years ago. After all these years, U.S. women runners, most of them anyway, are still chasing Mary Slaney. Moments later, onto the track for the start of the 5,000 meters stepped Slaney. Many among the crowd of 12,349 inside the Centennial Olympic Stadium must have wondered what she is still chasing.


It is a question that not even she can answer. The closest she can come is to say that she runs because she always has, having emerged as a world-class athlete when she was 14-year-old Mary Decker.


But whatever it is that drives her was on display Monday night. She did not win, finishing second to three-time world cross-country champion and 1992 10,000-meter bronze medalist Lynn Jennings. But the spirit Slaney, a medical marvel after at least 18 operations on her legs, showed in making her fourth Olympic team was the same as it was at her best, when she won two world championships in 1983.


Jennings, 35, won in 15:28.18. Slaney, 37, ran 15:29.39. Feeling very young, Amy Rudolph, 22, was third in 15:29.91.


"It's up there, simply because it was a longshot to be here," Slaney said when asked how this race rates among her greatest moments on the track.


But the history on most people's minds here went back to 1984, when Slaney, the favorite in the 3,000 meters, got her feet tangled with Zola Budd's and ended up on her back, in tears, on the Los Angeles Coliseum infield.


That was considered her best chance to win an Olympic medal, and, until Monday night, her last one. She finished eighth in the 3,000 in 1988 and did not qualify for the U.S. team in 1992. Even so, she is now able to joke about '84.


"When the Olympics were given to Atlanta, of course I wanted to be there," she said last week. "Number one, the last time the Olympics were on U.S. soil, I ended up in the soil."


That did not seem as funny with about 200 meters to go when, eerily while running in second place, Slaney's left heel hit Rudolph's right shin. Slaney, more experienced running in crowds than she was 12 years ago, did not stagger but did peer over her shoulder to give Rudolph a warning look.


Asked if she had a flashback, Slaney said, "A little bit." But Slaney did not remember who clipped her.


"I did," admitted a sheepish Rudolph, who was sitting next to Slaney at the post-race news conference. "I'm sorry."


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Carl Lewis assures anyone who will listen that he has no problem, he is in excellent shape, poised to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team in the long jump.


The numbers say otherwise.


Lewis finished last in the 100-meter final, his signature event. He is entered in the 200, but won't talk about that event, suggesting he is not entirely sure he will compete. That leaves the long jump and nothing he did in Monday's qualifying indicated he's a cinch to make the team there.


Shaken when an errant hammer throw sailed near the track as he prepared for his first jump, Lewis produced an ordinary series of three jumps, with a best effort of 26 feet, 4 1/4 inches.


That left him in sixth place in a competition where only three qualify. If others wondered about his position, Lewis, winner of this event in the last three Olympics, did not.


"I wanted to stay relaxed and stay smooth," he said. "I didn't want to be too aggressive. I used it more as a workout."


Lewis seemed more concerned about the hammer episode than his jumping. It happened when Ken Norlen's heave sailed across the long jump track, scattering the long jumpers.


"I can't blame the hammer throwers," Lewis said. "They were nervous, too, and they came over and apologized to us. Still, I don't think they were afraid of us jumping in front of their hammers."


(For other results, see Scorecard.)