"Mind Garzel," may be making it easier and easier each time out for the University of Maryland's Renaldo [Skeets] Nehemiah to blow away his competitors in the 100-meter hurdles.
Nehemiah says the rest of the field usually is psyched out before the race begins.
He had an extremely easy time winning in Saturday's Meet of Champions in Philadelphia, pulling away from the field so fast that one would be led to think the other hurdlers were wearing leg weights.
Afterward, Nehemiah explained why he has not been seriously challenged in a long time.
"The other guys fear me in a way." he said. "I know they're psyched out before the meet a lot of times. I can tell by their conversation. They say things like, 'You don't need good luck, Skeets,' or, "I hope you pull me through this time.'"
Hehemiah still is a little wary of his competitors' admiration of his magnificent kills. "I want to win on skill alone, not psych," he said.
"But you never know. They may be saying those things to psych me out and get me to relax. But it won't work. I would hate to give a guy the satisfaction of beating me, but if he does, it has to be on 100 percent physical and mental effort on the track, not some psych job,"
He said the only person even capable of such an effort at this time is UCLA's Greg Foster, rated the No. 2 hurdler in the world behind Nehemiah.
"Greg is the only person that could ge me the run of my life, but he has to have everything going on his best day to do it," Nehemiah said.
"Foster always stays with me for at least eight [of 13] hurdles."
Foster was the last American to beat Nehemiah -- a year ago in the NCAA championships. Since then he has not beaten Nehemiah in five attempts, including Saturday in Philadelphia. When he dropped out after three hurdles.
Foster said he pulled ligaments in his left ankle about four weeks ago in Chicago. "It bothered me today," he said.
While lying on the track infield after the meet, applying ice to his ankle, Foster said there definitely are mind games going on between Nehemiah and the rest of the hurdlers, but he is not a part of it.
"I'm not psyched out running against Nehemiah at all." Foster said. "Most of the other guys are, though, except for [Dedy] Cooper. They seem to shoot for finishing second behind Nehemiah."
Foster said that he was disappointed in recent showings. "I lack the concentration after the first six of seven hurdles, so I'll have to work on that because I don't like losing," he said.
Cooper, who finished second to Nehemiah Saturday, is expected to represent the United States in the high hurdles, along with Nehemiah and Foster, in the 1980 Olympics. Nehemiah said he did not think Cooper could beat him if past races were any indicator. CAPTION: Picture, Jean-pierre Jabouille