Billy Olson, with Thierry Vigneron providing an extra push, makes another attempt to record the first indoor 19-foot pole vault in the 94th annual U.S.A. Indoor Track and Field Championships tonight at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Olson increased his indoor best to 18-9 1/2 a week ago in San Diego, missing three tries at 19. The presence of Vigneron, the Frenchman who made the first outdoor 19-foot clearance eight months ago, could overcome the negative effect created by the Garden's short runway, where vaulters and horizontal jumpers must begin their approaches from the top of the banked track.
Even without a record being set, this meet ranks as a first on the indoor circuit. It will be televised live for two hours, from 9 until 11, minus commercials, on PBS (Channels 26 and 32 locally).
The feature event on the track, listed for 10:20, is the men's mile, with Steve Scott, America's best, taking on Ray Flynn of Ireland, a four-time winner this winter, and Doug Padilla, who recently set U.S. records for 5,000 meters and two miles.
The most interesting event on the women's program is the 60-yard dash, matching Evelyn Ashford, Jeanette Bolden and Chandra Cheeseborough. Ashford has been recognized as the world's top female sprinter, but Bolden has beaten her several times this winter and set an indoor record of 6.60 seconds. Cheeseborough won the event in the other Garden meet, the Millrose Games.
Renaldo Nehemiah, who won the ABC-TV "Superstars" last week, is entered in the 60-yard high hurdles, which he passed up a year ago following "Superstars" competition, provoking angry words from meet director Heliodoro Rico. This meet annually is beset by dropouts and nobody can be certain until race time who will be at the line.
Fred Sowerby and Mike Solomon, each a two-time champion, renew their rivalry in the 600. Don Paige and Mark Belger top the entry list for the 1,000. Stanley Floyd, Carl Lewis and Mel Lattany head the 60 field.