Although female pole vaulters competed in the outdoor world championships for the first time here, not everything about their debut demonstrated progress for female athletes.

The women vaulters who competed in Saturday's final were described as "seemingly an endless line of pinup girls" in today's lead article on the official Web site of the international governing body for track and field, the International Amateur Athletic Union.

In a news article titled, "Looking good and flying high," Nick Davies, a London-based contributor to the Web site ( wrote that "from the strawberry blond Emma George to those leggy blondes from Germany; from [Tatiana] Grigorieva with her tattooed tummy to the doll-like [Anzhela] Balakhonova, the pole vault is set to become THE athletic catwalk of the new Millennium."

The editor of the Web site, IAAF spokesman Giorgio Reineri, said he had not seen Davies's story before it appeared on the site this morning. After reading it, Reineri said he would consider having the story pulled.

"I think it's our duty to talk and write about women with the same angle and respect we have for the men athletes," Reineri said. "We have also to leave journalists to be free to express their style and to write some different points of view. . . . I am convinced the author of this article never [intended] to give the impression he doesn't respect women in athletics and women in general."

Questioned about the story, Davies pointed out that he wrote that the pole vaulters "had captured our attention--not just for looking good--but for their superb athleticism."

Said Davies: "My feeling is that it's a reasonable feature."

Better Last Than Not Qualifying

It wasn't pretty, but District resident Steve Holman qualified for Tuesday's 1,500-meter final. With a time of 3 minutes 37.52 seconds, Holman was the last of 12 qualifiers. Running in the fastest of two qualifying groups, Holman finished seventh of 12 runners.

"It wasn't a great race, but I'm in the final group," said Holman, who did not make it out of the semifinals at the 1997 worlds. "I tried to get to the next round and I did that, though it wasn't particularly pretty.

"Tactical races have never been my strength. . . . I think I will run a lot better for the final on two days' rest."

The 1,500 final will pit young Kenyan Noah Ngeny against Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj, who set the world record in the mile this summer--with Ngeny a step behind.

Johnson Takes Aim at 400 Mark

U.S. sprinter Michael Johnson, seeking his third straight 400-meter world gold medal, cruised through today's qualifying round. Johnson eased up at the finish of his race while making sure he would be in the top four of his group.

Johnson said his time of 45.35, eighth best of the day, was no indication of what lies ahead. Johnson, the world record holder in the 200, will try to break Butch Reynolds's world record of 43.29.

"It's glaring," Johnson said about not owning that record. "It's the one thing missing."