ROME, AUG. 30 -- Carl Lewis tied the world record in the 100 meters today. But his archrival, Ben Johnson of Canada, ran a remarkable 9.83 to beat him and the record by a full tenth of a second in the world track and field championships.
"This record is the best ever in the history of track, in all events," Johnson said after his fifth straight victory over Lewis in 21 months.
Calvin Smith of the United States set the record of 9.93 in 1983 in Colorado Springs, a high-altitude site. Today's race was at sea level and Johnson's feat represents a drop of 1 percent, all but unheard of in track and especially in a race so short. An equivalent decrease in the world mile record would be 2.26 seconds.
"If I had been asked before the race if either of us could have clipped a tenth of a second off, I'd have said no," Lewis said.
Johnson's effort, before a crowd of 65,000 in the Olympic stadium, overshadowed another world record, by Bulgarian high jumper Stefka Kostadinova, whose 6-foot 10 1/4-inch effort bettered the women's high -- her own -- by a half-inch.
And Lewis' silver represented the only medal won by U.S. athletes in five finals on the second day of the eight-day meet. U.S. athletes have two medals in eight finals thus far.
Further, world-record triple jumper Willie Banks, who has not done well in big meets recently, and Charlie Simpkins, another top American, failed to qualify for the final in their specialty. Banks placed 19th at 53-8 1/2, Simpkins 18th at 53-9 1/2. The top 13 qualified for the final; the cutoff was 55-3 1/4.
East Germany's Silke Gladisch upset countrywoman Heike Drechsler in the women's 100-meter final in a meet-record 10.90. Drechsler, like Lewis, was trying to defend the three titles she won in the first world championships in 1983. Drechsler ran an 11.00 after a slow start from the blocks.
Other new gold medalists are Italy's Maurizio Damilano with 1:20:45 in the 20-kilometer walk and Seppo Raty, a relatively unknown Finn, with a surprising victory in the men's javelin, throwing 274-1 on his final attempt.
Johnson, 25, stunned the spectators by blasting out of the blocks in the 100 meters and establishing clear superiority in the first few strides over Lewis, a notoriously slow starter.
"The first 10 meters were very good," Johnson said. "I got out of the blocks so hard I almost ended up in his lane. By the middle of the race I was running hard. At 40 meters I found the mark that I use to reach my high speed. It was then that I knew I would win."
At the tape, Johnson was two meters ahead of Lewis, who was closing a little ground at the end. Third was Jamaica's Raymond Stewart, in 10.08. Johnson, who was born in Jamaica, became the first non-U.S. athlete to hold the 100-meter record in 27 years.
The muscular Johnson became well-known as a world-class sprinter in 1984 when he finished third to Lewis, who was winning four events at the Los Angeles Olympics. Johnson has been seeking recognition as Lewis' superior on the track for more than a year. Today's performance probably clinched it.
"It was great," he said, as his mother sat next to him.
Lewis was gracious in defeat, trotting after Johnson around the track to shake his hand before returning to his dressing room. But Lewis is not conceding he cannot regain the top.
"He ran a great race today and he won," Lewis said. "But no, he is not unbeatable. No one is unbeatable. He ran a great race, that's all."
Later, after the medal ceremony, Lewis sought to dispel reports that there was animosity between the two sprinters.
"I really don't think that is the issue," he said with Johnson sitting next to him. "Ben ran a good race and I ran a good race, that is what matters. We are not in a World War II situation here. The lowdown is that we are both great athletes, we are both great competitors and we both want to be No. 1."
Lewis said that his speed today was the result of being in his best shape ever and that it might help his performance in the long jump and the relay.
Johnson, whose goal is winning the gold medal at Seoul in the 1988 Olympics, said he has recently been working on the final 40 meters. His strength is his start and he bursts out of the blocks with such force and acceleration that some observers have claimed he occasionally jumps the gun in a "rolling start."
"My quick start is natural," he said. "My reflexes take care of that. I've had to work on the last 40 meters of my race, and my coach, Charlie Francis, and I have really specialized on that."
Among U.S. entrants involved in other finals, Diane Williams was fourth in the women's 100 while Pam Marshall, the only other American in the final, finished last. In the men's javelin, Tom Petranoff was fourth as Raty beat the Soviet Union's Viktor Yevsyukov and Czechoslovakian world-record holder Jan Zeleznov. In the women's high jump final, Louise Ritter was eighth and Coleen Sommer 11th. The best the United States could do in the 20-kilometer walk was Ray Sharp's 21st place.
The championships continue Monday with the finals of the men's triple jump, women's 400 and 800 meters and women's discus.
In the triple jump trials today, Banks had no excuses.
"I worked on my run all week, and I thought I had it," he said. "But it didn't happen. After having jumped for 14 years, I don't have the answer."
Simpkins said he had not reovered from an ankle injury.
On the plus side for the United States, 400-meter dash favorite Butch Reynolds ran the day's fastest qualifying time, 45.51. And, in qualifying for the 400-meter hurdles, Edwin Moses, two-time Olympic champion, world-record holder and defending world champion, glided into Monday's semifinals with U.S. teammates Danny Harris and David Patrick, West Germany's Harald Schmid and Senegal's Amadou Dia Ba.
Moses won his first-round heat in 49.03. Harris, who ended Moses' 10-year, 121-race winning streak June 4, had the fastest time in the six heats, 48.74.