As temperatures soar into plus-100 readings, there also is a hot little war of words being waged by Maryland hurdler Renaldo Nehemiah and UCLA's track coach, Jim Bush, on the eve of the national AAU outdoor track and field championships opening here Friday.
Nehemiah begins his quest for an official sub-13-second clocking in a quarterfinal of the 110-meter high hurdles Friday, and he said, "This is the one I want to win. It's a good, fast track and a world record is certainly possible. I hope Greg Foster, Charlie Foster and Dedy Cooper are ready."
It is doubtful whether they are ready to challenge Nehemiah, who seems to be in a class by himself.But Bush, Greg Foster's coach at UCLA, demonstrated he is ready to battle Nehemiah in the words department, at least. Outside of the sun, their feud has generated the most heat in the area.
"Jim Bush has put too much pressure on Greg Foster, always saying he's the greatest hurdler in the world," Nehemiah said. "I've been beating Foster because I want it more, and because I've got several people advising me in different phases, where Foster has only Bush."
"I don't like him coming into my backyard and taking shots at me when he doesn't know what he's talking about," Bush countered. "He implies that I'm not a good hurdles coach. I'm a former hurdler myself and I've coached Hon Copeland, James Owens and Foster at UCLA.
"I coached Brig Owens, a national record holder, at Fullerton High before Nehemiah was born. Nehemiah is a great athlete and hurdler and I think he should stick to that."
Most everyone else in these parts was sticking to moaning about the weather.
Although the walkers in the 50-kilometer event will beat the worst of the heat with a 7 a.m. start Friday, the rest of the competitors must be primed to fight the weather as well as each other. Temperature records have been broken here by plus-100 readings for five straight days, a smog alert is in effect and, for added conjecture, a case of bubonic plague has been detected in nearby Diamond Bar.
"This is a different kind of heat and it makes it difficult to run," said Fred Sowerby, the Antigua Olympian who coaches D.C. International and will compete in the 400 meters. "I'm accustomed to a little breeze cooling me off. This is a dry heat and it burns your eyes and face."
"We've been here before and it gets terrible in the afternoon,c said Alex Woodley, coach of the powerful Philadelphia Pioneers. "It's especially tough if you try to come back in repeat races."
"With the qualifying round on Saturday and 40 vaulters in the competition, the heat is going to take a lot out of us," said Mike Tully, the pole vault favorite.
Only four finals are scheduled Friday, with the remainder of the 13 1/2-hour session designed to reduce the various fields to manageable proportions for the big days Saturday and Sunday.
Chris Shea of Georgetown, the women's national indoor champion in the mile walk, will compete in Friday's 5,000-meter walk final against Sue Brodock, the woman she upset in Madison Square Garden. Besides the two walks, other finals are set in the women's 10,000-meter run and 3,200-meter relay.
Nehemlah, who will race in semifinals and finals Saturday, will represent D.C. International in this meet along with Maryland triple-jumper Dennis Ivory, who is still troubled by a sore thigh. John Christian and Cliff Wiley will contest both the 100 and 200 meters and Maurice Peoples will join Sowerby in the 400.
On the women's side, D.C. International will field teams in both the 800-meter medley and 1,600-meter relays. Freida Nichols will run the 200 and 400, Carolyn McRory the 100 and 200, Liz Hartz the 400 and Henrietta Nancis and Debbie Roberson the 800. Paula Girven and Jalene Chase are entered in the high jump.
Benita Fitzgerald of Garfield High will represent the D.C. Striders in the 100-meter dash and 100-meter hurdles. Liz Young of the University of D.C. will run the 100 and 200, and Chris Mullen of Georgetown is an 800 entry. CAPTION: Picture, Renaldo Nehemiah