If all's well that ends well, then there's little wonder the United States track and field performers felt pretty good tonight. The 12th World University Games ended at Commonwealth Stadium with the Americans breezing to gold medals in one of their favorite events--the relays.
The United States, with Tennessee's Willie Gault running anchor, defeated Canada and the Soviet Union to win the men's 4x100 in 38.50 seconds. Only minutes before, the U.S. women set a Universiade record in the same event, 42.82, getting a tremendous third leg sprint from Florida State's Brenda Cliette. Again, Canada and the Soviet Union placed second and third, respectively.
Primo Nebiolo, president of the International Federation of University Sports, tonight criticized the United States for not sending its best athletes to compete here at the World Games.
"We don't understand why it is possible for the United States, with such a powerful university structure, to not send its best athletes," he said at a press conference after the games' closing ceremonies.
Randy Givens, from Florida State, who ran anchor and won her second gold medal of the week and third medal overall, was one of the few American athletes who decided to make the '83 Universiade a priority event this summer.
"Since I'm new to the international scene, I thought it would be wiser to compete in something set up like the Olympics, than to pass it by for national competition," Givens said.
Houston's Jackie Washington, also a member of the women's relay team, said that while winning the gold was special, she didn't feel the U.S. had to prove anything to their international competitors.
"Our coach, Brooks Johnson, reminded us that we (Americans) already hold most of the world records and that we had already proven ourselves," Washington said. "What many people don't realize is how bunched a lot of these events are. A lot of the U.S. athletes had been competing in tough events for five and six straight weeks.
"I didn't really feel rested until the last couple of days or so. Tonight, I felt really, really well. Our handoffs were great."
The women's high jump was won by the Soviet Union's Tamara Bykova, who reached 1.98 meters (6 feet 6 inches) but missed three attempts at a world record height of 2.03 meters.
Gault also won a silver medal in the 110-meter hurdles. His time of 13.49 was .03 of a second behind the Soviets' Andrei Prokofyev.
"I've had so many (injury) problems," Gault said, "I just wanted to run to see where I was in terms of international competition."
The happiness this evening helped obscure the fact that the United States won fewer medals here than in any previous World University Games. The Soviet Union won 59 gold medals and 115 overall, while the U.S. won 12 gold medals and 54 overall. In the medal standings, Canada finished third (38 medals), Romania fourth (27) and Italy fifth (25). Nigeria won five gold medals, all by athletes who attend college in the United States.