Carl Lewis followed up history's second best long jump with the second best 200 meters tonight. He was so happy about it that he lost a golden opportunity for a world record.
As Lewis approached the finish line of the 200 to complete a triple last accomplished 97 years ago in the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships, he threw up his hands in unrestrained joy. Had he waited to celebrate until he had passed the automatic timer, it seems certain he would have erased Pietro Mennea's world mark of 19.72. Instead, he was clocked in 19.75.
"I have no regrets," Lewis said. "I have fun competing and experience joy competing. I don't compete just for records. I'm one tick away from the 100 record, two ticks away from the 200 record and four inches away from the long jump record. I'm not concerned with those.
"Any performance tonight can be repeated next week, next month, next year. I want to compete, win and run well, that's all."
For the 200, the wind reading was 1.49 meters per second, well under the allowable 2.00 for record purposes. For his first long jump, it was nearly optimum, 1.89, and he took advantage to leap 28-10 1/4. It was surpassed only by Bob Beamon's legendary 29-2 1/2 of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
Although Lewis had planned to stop after one jump to prepare for the 200, he made one more try and with a reduced aiding wind nevertheless managed 28-7, the fourth best legal jump of all time. Lewis had leaped 28-9 here last summer.
"Since I jumped so far, I thought I owed it to myself to try one more time to go over 29," he said. "Then I had to get ready for the semifinals of the 200. I figure I sacrificed a world record in the long jump tonight and ended up with an American record in the 200."
Lewis had won the 100 meters Saturday night and became the first man since Malcolm Ford in 1886 to complete the 100-200-long jump triple.
There were other brilliant performances tonight, although they faded into the shadow of Lewis' heroics.
Mary Decker, running by herself, completed a 1,500-3,000 double with only a 50-minute break. She ran the 1,500 in 4:03.50, just missing the meet record, and came back to win the 3,000 in 8:38.36, a meet record by 15 seconds and the second best ever by an American, behind her 8:29.71 of a year ago.
"This is good strength training for me," said Decker. "It feels like the season is starting now. I might have gone under 4 minutes in the 1,500, but I had decided earlier that if I didn't need to sprint, I wouldn't, because I still had the 3,000 and I didn't know what I'd need for it."
Evelyn Ashford fought off Chandra Cheeseborough in the 200 to complete a sprint double. Ashford's time of 21.88 was only five-hundredths off her U.S. record, and she is the only U.S. sprinter to better Cheeseborough's runner-up 21.99.
"My butt is sore, but that's from not being in good shape yet," Ashford said. "I felt stronger than I did for the 100 last night, but I wasn't as loose. To run fast, you have to be strong and loose. I wasn't relaxed and there was no flow. I'm tired and I want to go to sleep."
Robin Campbell, the Washington, D.C., native who has become the top U.S. half-miler at age 24, moved into third place on the all-time U.S. list by winning the 800 meters in a front-running 1:59.
Edwin Moses easily beat a good field and won his 75th straight final in the 400-meter hurdles in 47.84, fastest time in the world this year.
Steve Scott overhauled Tom Byers in the stretch to win the 1,500 meters in 3:36.62, as both Byers and Sydney Maree were within two meters of him at the finish. Byers had sprinted into the lead on the backstretch in an attempt to steal the race.
There were some spectacular performances behind Lewis in the long jump, too, as three other men bettered 27 feet. Jason Grimes, 27-6 1/2, and Mike Conley, 27-6, joined Lewis on the U.S. team for the World Championships, while Larry Myricks fell short at 27-4 3/4.
Conley also made it in the triple jump, leaping 56-5 3/4 to place second behind Willie Banks' 56-7 1/2.
Dwight Stones cleared 7-6 to win his sixth U.S. title in the high jump. Navy's Leo Williams and Tyke Peacock shared second place at 7-5 and earned trips to Helsinki.
There were a couple of startling upsets in the discus and javelin, as John Powell and Rod Ewaliko emerged with unexpected championships.
Powell won his first U.S. discus title since 1975 with a throw of 222 feet that beat favored Ben Plucknett by two feet, with Mac Wilkins third.
Ewaliko took the javelin at 285-3, five feet farther than Tom Petranoff, who five weeks ago set the world record of 327-2.
David Patrick, who won the 400 hurdles in Moses' absence a year ago, moved to the 800 meters and won in 1:44.70. David Mack was second and James Robinson, who had won the event five years in a row, finished third.
Sunder Nix of Indiana had the crowd of 10,637 on its feet as he took the 400 in a swift 45.15. Cliff Wiley, No. 1 in the U.S. the last two years, was a soundly beaten sixth in 45.61.