MINNEAPOLIS, JULY 11 -- Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist in the heptathlon and long jump and the most famous athlete at the U.S. Olympic Festival, said today she felt it was her duty to come to this event.
"It's not so much that I'm competing," she said. "I'm lending my name and trying to bring notoriety to the Olympic Festival. It's important to continue to uplift the Olympic Festival."
Many world-class U.S. athletes skipped the festival this year -- just as they've done almost every year -- to get ready for, in this case, the Goodwill Games later this month in Seattle. Because of competition from international events, the festival has evolved into a developmental competition in most sports, with young, unknown athletes populating rosters. They may be future Olympians, but, for the most part, they aren't Olympians yet.
But this is not the case for Joyner-Kersee. She will run in the 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay for the North team and also will participate as an exhibition athlete in the javelin and high jump. These events will help her in the Goodwill Games, she said.
"It's a good tuneup meet," said Joyner-Kersee's coach and husband, Bobby Kersee. "Of course, you worry about injuries but, God willing, she'll get out of this with the training she needs."
Said Joyner-Kersee: "I came here in 1981, 1985 and 1986 and received a lot of notoriety when I was a nobody. I saw some athletes then who were trying to make the Olympic team. It is developmental for young people, but I'm glad to be here."A New Addition
News from the Joyner family: Florence Griffith Joyner, the world's fastest woman, and husband Al Joyner, Jackie's brother, are expecting their first child in November, Jackie said. . . .
Pete Carril, the Princeton basketball coach who coached the East team to a bronze medal, said he doesn't want to coach any more all-star teams.
"These guys sleep together, eat together and then they get on the court and they won't give up the ball. I told them, 'It's unreal. How can you consider yourselves friendly when you're so selfish?' This week really made me appreciate my players," he said. . . .
Festival athletes Terry Evans (basketball) and Maylon Hanold (kayak) were named the first winners of the Nuprin Comeback award. Evans came back from arthroscopic knee surgery; Hanold, on the national whitewater slalom team the past three years, had an extreme strain of the rotator cuff this past spring.