Reminiscent of last summer's Los Angeles Olympics, Mary Decker Slaney was carried from the track by her husband Richard.
Tonight, though, she wasn't pushed. Maybe she pushed herself too much. Cruising at world record pace in the women's 1,500 meters in the Vitalis/U.S. Olympic Invitational at the Meadowlands' Brendan Byrne Arena, Slaney grabbed her right calf with a quarter-mile left and took herself out of the race.
It was doubly unfortunate because she had begun to run well again. A teary Slaney left the track in her husband's arms and did not meet with the press. The nature of her injury was not immediately announced.
"I don't believe she's in a lot of pain now," said Dick Brown, Slaney's coach. "As far as we can figure, she was running very well. At or near the end of lap six, she felt a twinge in her calf. She kept trying to run, and it didn't work out, so she dropped out."
Slaney moved comfortably through the 400-meter mark in 61.8, and the crowd urged her on. Only eventual winner Diana Richburg stayed with Slaney, trailing through the midway point by 10 yards.
Just after passing 1,200 meters in 3:16.9, Slaney slowed tremendously. A few meters later, she moved off the track to the infield, grimacing in pain. Richburg was fading at the end, but held on for the victory in 4:08.57.
Moments later, favorite Eamonn Coghlan repeated as the men's mile champion, winning his 13th race in a row indoors at that distance in 3:52.37.
Coghlan, the world indoor record holder and only person ever to run under 3:50 indoors (he ran 3:49.78 here in 1983), ran a wonderful tactical race. Sitting back for the first half of the race, Coghlan moved ahead of Marcus O'Sullivan with 3 1/2 laps remaining and stayed on Sydney Maree's shoulder until the final turn.
"I didn't know what to expect," said Coghlan, who helped design the track here. "Everyone was hoping for a world record, but it was just a hope. I haven't been doing the speed work necessary to break the record.
Ruth Wysocki, the woman who beat Slaney in the 1,500 meters in the U.S. Olympic trials last summer, upset Romanian Maricica Puica in the 3,000 meters with an 8:49.93. Puica, the gold medalist in the Olympic 3,000, was passed in the last third of the race and dropped off the pace. She took second in 8:53.53, ahead of Pattisue Plumer's 9:01.85.
Doug Padilla, the U.S. record holder in the 5,000 meters, won his third straight Olympic Invitational title. He was timed in 13:26.18.
Valerie Brisco-Hooks, who won three gold medals in last summer's Olympic Games, ran a national best of 52.63 seconds in winning the women's 400 meters.
She held an arms-length lead over Diane Dixon, the defending champion, during most of the final lap, but, coming off the final turn, Dixon leaned slightly ahead. Brisco-Hooks then accelerated slightly and hit the tape first, one-hundredth of a second ahead of Dixon.
The previous best for the 400 meters was Dixon's 53.17, set in 1983.
Carl Lewis won the Jesse Owens 55-meter dash in 6.15, considerably off his world best indoors time of 6.02, set in 1983. Then he sang the Star Spangled Banner and watched his sister Carol lose in the long jump.
Carol Lewis and Vali Ionescu of Romania jumped a meet-record 21 feet 8 3/4 inches, but Ionescu's second jump of 21-8 beat Lewis' five fouls on her other jumps.
In the women's 55-meter hurdles, Stephanie Hightower earned her fifth straight Olympic Invitational title by breezing through the trials and again leading all the way in the final. She won in 7.56, one-10th of a second off her meet record set last year.
In the women's 55-meter dash, Olympic silver medalist Alice Brown and defending champion Chandra Cheeseborough won in the trials, but Brown was ahead at the start of the final and prevailed in a meet-record 6.66. Cheeseborough, who had set the mark of 6.69 last year, ran 6.72.
Brandon Richards, a senior from Midway High School in Waco, Tex., set a national high school indoor record of 17 feet 5 inches in the Bob Richards pole vault.
Coincidently, the man for whom the event was named is Brandon Richards' father, a two-time Olympic champion who never vaulted so high as his son has.
Another national scholastic record to fall was in the girl's 1,000 meters. Margaret Scutro of Ridgewood, N.J., won in 2:47.44, 2.44 seconds off the record.
Sammy Koskei of Texas-El Paso broke the meet record for a collegiate runner in the 1,000 meters with a 2:19.19 clocking. The old standard of 2:19.79 was set by Adam Dixon of Harvard in 1981. Edwin Koech was second in 2:21.03 and Miles Irish of Georgetown followed at 2:21.74.
Georgetown won the men's 4X800-meter relay in 7:29.32 with a team of Mike Huber, John Pedati, Phillip Franshaw and Lloyd Gellineau