Alberto Juantorena, the Cuban Horse, is reluctant to run in the United States. So fans attending the National Invitational indoor track meet at College Park Friday night must be content to watch the only man to beat Juantorena in the last two years.
Seymour Newman, the Jamaica Olympian now running for the D.C. Striders, will contest the 880 along with countryman Byron Dyce, U.S. Olympian Mark Enyeart, Mark Belger of Villanova and Kenyan imports Peter Lemashon of Texas-El Paso and Wesley Maiyo of Florida.
Newman's victory over Juantorena came last summer in Jalapa, Mexico, in the Central American Games. Newman edged the Cuban by two-hundredths of a second in the 400 meters. Surprisingly, Newman professed to be unsurprised.
"I ran against him four times," Newman said. "In 1972 or '73, he just edged me in the 400. Then, in the Olympics, in the mile relay, I ran away from him, 43.8 to 44.7. I knew I could run against him in the quarter."
Despite his excellent 400-meter times - his 43.8 at Montreal was second-fastest spilt of the Games - Newman considers the 800 his best event. He clocked 1:45.2 last summer, a Jamaican record that made him No. 4 in the world. For the indoor campaign, his goal is to shatter Mark Winzenried's 1.000-yard record of 2:05.1.
"I've run indoors only six times," Newman said, "and I have a best of 2:07. My hope is to get close to the world record."
The only thing that would make Newman happier would be Rick Wohlhuter's return to full-time competition. Newman twice was bumped by Wohlhuter in an Olympic 800-meter semifinal, was edged for the last qualifying berth by four-hundredths of a second in a controversial finish and will go to his grave thinking he could have won the gold medal the next day.
Today, 18 months later, Newman recalls every detail of that race, in which Wohlhuter was first disqualified, elevating Newman to fourth place and a berth in the final, and later reinsatted, bumping the Jamaican once again.
"I started out too slow and I tried to get up front and after 500 meters I was up with the Cuban," Newman recalled. "we were side by side for the lead up the backstretch when I was hit from behind and knocked off stride. Wohlhuter came right through the middle, where there was just a little gap, and bumped me.
"Then, I went back in front and was leading up to 700 meters. He came alongside of me again and leaned on me. I eased up to let him go by me and in the process three others came by me.
"They disqualified him and I was in the final, so I went back to the Village to get ready for it. Hours later, I heard they had changed it and I ran back all the way to see what happend. They said a Russian runner (Viktor Anokhin) bounced Wohlhuter. It couldn't be true. He just came through the middle. And the time he pinned me against the curb.
"I think it was done that way because Wohlhuter was a U.S. gold medal prospect and I was an unknown. And my coach and manager didn't go to the meeting. My coach didn't really find out what happened."
Newman recently enrolled at the University of Texas, but as a transfer for the Striders and already has contributed a 48.9 relay leg as the Striders clocked 3:15.0 on a tight 140-yard track in Saskatoon.
Leading competitors scheduled to compete in the CYO track meet Friday night at Cole Field House: