SYDNEY, Australia - The warm-up track next to the Olympic Stadium has seating large enough to accommodate just about any American meet outside of the U.S. trials or the Penn Relays. An informal meet was held there Thursday and Baltimore's James Carter won his heat of the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in an effortless 49.90 seconds.
"I basically stopped pushing it with 150 meters to go," Carter said. "I jogged in."
It was Carters second 400 hurdles race in his two weeks here after several months of seclusion and practice after the U.S. trials.
It appears that Bernard Williams, a prep rival of Carter's, will join him as a competitor at 110,000-seat Olympic Stadium. An official with USA Track and Field said today that Williams will probably be on the men's 400 relay team, which will get a gold medal if it can safely pass the baton around the track. Williams is a part of the HSI team, and his training partners include Maurice Greene, the world-record holder.
The American team, meanwhile, continues to see some of its stars come up lame. Regina Jacobs, the grand dame of American distance running, withdrew from the 1,500 meters because of illness. A leg injury sidelined world champion C. J. Hunter, the husband of Marion Jones, in the shot put. Allen Johnson, the defending champion in the 110 hurdles, is nursing a hamstring pull that flared up earlier this month.
Weightlifter Michael Cohen was a Lost Olympian in 1980, among the Americans who missed out on the Moscow Games when President Carter ordered a boycott. A native of Savannah, Ga., he was part of the relay torch leading up to Atlanta four years ago. Friday night, he finally marched in an opening ceremonies, as the coach of the first U.S. women's weightlifting team.
Cohen's initial understanding was that coaches wouldn't be able to march.
"I thought I was going to have to wait another 20 years to get a chance to march," Cohen said. "I've been waiting 20 years for this. It's been a long time coming."
There were other unexpected participants in Friday's opening. The U.S. women's soccer team beat Norway, 2-0, in Melbourne on Thursday, and after a jog the next morning, journeyed here and marched in the opening ceremonies. Mia Hamm and company then took a flight back to Melbourne yesterday morning. The women are meeting their major rival, China, tonight.
There is no end to Australia's pride. Early editions of the Sunday Herald and Sun-Telegraph trumpeted Michellie Jones' silver medal in the triathlon. She was the favorite, and her accomplishment would probably have been noted as a disaster in the New York tabloids. ... American 10,000 runner Alan Culpepper celebrated his 28th birthday by marching in the opening ceremonies.