Olympic gold medalist Benita Fitzgerald Brown finished a sluggish fourth in the 100-meter hurdles tonight while Rhonda Blanford, who barely missed making the Los Angeles Olympic team, won the race at the National Sports Festival.
The track and field sensation of the day, however, was Jackie Joyner, who set a record first-day pace in the heptathlon. And in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, Henry Marsh won the event at the Festival for the third time, in a slow time of 8 minutes 34.49 seconds.
A surprise in the diving competition was double Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, who was third after the prelimary round of the men's 10-meter platform diving.
Today marked the first full day of competition following Friday night's Olympic-style opening ceremonies, and U.S. Olympic Committee officials used it as an occasion to announce an expected name change. The 12-day Festival, which includes 34 Olympic and Pan American sports, generally is recognized as an important first step toward the 1988 Olympics. To increase the Olympic image at next year's event in Houston, it will be called the U.S. Olympic Festival, the USOC said.
Blanford edged Lavonna Martin of Trotwood, Tenn., and Candy Young of Teaneck, N.J., in 13.30. Martin finished in 13:35, Young in 13.38 and Brown at 13.39.
Brown, of Dale City, Va., said she was worn out from a series of European events and that she fell during practice Tuesday, a sign of fatigue. She had a particularly poor start, made up some ground around the fourth and fifth hurdles but finally fell back.
"I was dead last out of the blocks so I could see everyone," she said. "I have no speed out of the hurdles, no gears. It's just not there today. It hasn't been for the last two or three races."
Joyner, the Olympic silver medalist who attends UCLA, totaled 3,942 points in four events, a U.S. first-day record, a meet record and a personal record. She won outright three of four events contested -- the 200 meters, 100-meter hurdles and shot put -- and tied in the high jump.
Laurie Young, the NCAA champion from Northeast Louisiana, was second with 3,279 points.
Another upset was scored when Calvin Smith, the world record holder in the 100 meters, lost in the 200 to Dwayne Evans, 26, the bronze medalist at the 1976 Olympics. Evans was timed in 20.44 and Smith 20.64.
It was a bad night for Smith. In the men's 4x100 relay, his South team fell back when he and Lee McNeil of East Carolina fumbled the baton on the third exchange. The North team of Desmond Ross, Thomas Jefferson, Claude Magee and Albert Robinson won in 39.39.
The night was fairly routine for other Olympians. Valerie Brisco-Hooks, the triple gold medalist, won the women's 200 meters with predictable ease in 22.57. NCAA champion Cathy Branta of Wisconsin won the women's 3,000 meters in 9:07.01, and the women's 400 meters was claimed by Lillie Leatherwood in 51.73.
In the men's 1,500, Jim Spivey won in 3:42.13 over the University of Virginia's John Hinton (3:42.36).
Today's outdoor competition was marred slightly by bad weather. Winds up to 40 mph and squalls caused postponement of the Festival's first baseball game and the yachting, which took place on Lake Ponchartrain in New Orleans.
In other events, Olympic stars Michele Mitchell and Brian Boitano were predictably dominant.
Boitano, the defending U.S. champion, maintained what appears to be total command of the men's figure skating division with a crowd-pleasing two-minute routine in the short program.
Mitchell, the Olympic silver medalist who won the springboard diving competition Thursday, earned her second Festival gold medal in the women's platform finals. Mitchell scored 448.59 points to 396.39 for Karen LaFace of Pittsburgh.
In the men's 10-meter platform diving at the Louisiana State University Natatorium, Matt Scoggin of Austin, Tex., took advantage of others' mistakes to lead all divers with 592.35 points. Louganis still is the favorite to win Sunday's finals.
Boitano, the defending national champion who placed third at the World Championships, was comfortably in first place after the compulsories and extended that today. All seven judges ranked him in first place with 81.10 points, in front of Chris Bowman of Van Nuys, Calif., with 79.30 and Scott Williams of Redondo Beach, Calif., with 77.50.
Debi Thomas, who had lost her role as favorite in the women's figure skating, retook it with a stunning short program that gave her a narrow lead going into Sunday's long programs.
Thomas, the second-ranked U.S. skater behind Tiffany Chin, last year's winner who is not here, on Friday trailed Caryn Kadavy of Erie, Pa. But Thomas was one of the few skaters who did not stumble or fall in her routine today to earn three marks of 5.7 out of a perfect 6 for technical merit and two of 5.8 for artistic presentation, for a total of 77.90 points. It put her in strong position for Sunday afternoon's long program, which counts for 50 percent of the final scores.