Michael Johnson, the world record-holder at 200 and 400 meters, and the 1996 Olympic gold medalist in both events, plans to end his racing career at the 2001 Goodwill Games.

"I got my international start at the Goodwill Games, so they have always been very important to me," Johnson said yesterday.

Johnson, 32, said that next year's Summer Games in Sydney will be his final Olympics, and that the Goodwill Games will mark the end of his competitive career. Johnson, who has won five Goodwill Games gold medals, and Australian swimmer Grant Hackett, the world 1,500-meter champion, are acting as official ambassadors for the Games. Johnson has competed in the previous four Goodwill Games.

A chamber quartet played under threatening skies and Johnson and Hackett showed up a few minutes late, but nothing could dampen organizer Ted Turner's enthusiasm when he helped officially launch the 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia.

"I can't think of a better backdrop for the first Goodwill Games of the new millennium than Brisbane," Turner said.

The Games will be held Aug. 29-Sept. 9, 2001.

Horse Racing

Triple Crown to NBC

Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown--the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes--is moving to NBC under a five-year agreement. The NBA might be responsible for the switch.

"When we went out to solicit bids and interest, we did it with a view to promoting racing," said Thomas Meeker, president of Triple Crown Productions.

That's because the network already has the NBA and regularly programmed playoff games opposite ABC's telecasts of the Triple Crown races.

Now, instead of providing alternative programming, the NBA playoff games can provide an attractive lead-in for the races and perhaps deliver a younger audience, as well.

"Clearly, the NBA has posed a problem for thoroughbred racing," Meeker said. "Not having that competition will enhance our ability to attract new viewers to our sport."

NBC paid a reported $51.5 million for the rights beginning in 2001, and Dick Ebersol, chairman of the network's sports division, said that with the NBA as a lead-in instead of competition, the Triple Crown races could anticipate a ratings increase of 15-20 percent.

Ebersol said NBC also was committed to covering the prep races that lead up to the Kentucky Derby, either on its cable channels or other cable systems.

Golf

Garcia Is Perfect Match

Sergio Garcia, one of golf's rising young stars, has accepted an invitation to play in this month's World Match Play Championship in England. Garcia, who won the German Masters in a playoff Sunday, has won two tournaments since turning pro six months ago. The 19-year-old Spaniard, who is No. 2 on the European money list, finished second to Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship and played in last month's Ryder Cup.

Mark O'Meara will defend his title in the Oct. 14-17 event on the West Course at Wentworth. Also in the field will be two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, British Open winner Paul Lawrie and three-time champion Ernie Els. Organizers also have invited American Notah Begay III, who shot a 59 on the Nike Tour last season. The field will be rounded out by Colin Montgomerie, Nick Price, Carlos Franco, Craig Parry, Retief Goosen and Padraig Harrington.

Soccer

Pele's Son on Trial

The son of Brazilian soccer legend Pele will go on trial today in Brazil for murder. Prosecutors have accused Pele's son, Edson Cholbi do Nascimento, 27, and Marcilio Jose Marinho de Melo, 24, of killing a motorcyclist by smashing into him when racing their cars.

Pedro Simoes Neto, 50, a retiree, was thrown from his motorcycle and killed in October 1992 in Santos, a port town 48 miles southeast of Sao Paulo.

In February, the Justice Tribunal of Sao Paulo ruled that Nascimento and Melo should be charged with murder, and not, as was expected, with involuntary manslaughter. Nascimento's attorney, Marlon Wander Machado, and Pele's office were not available to comment.

Basketball

Sting to Stay in Charlotte

The WNBA is close to completing a long-term deal to keep the Charlotte Sting in the city, officials said. Some media reports over the summer questioned whether the franchise, a charter member of the WNBA, had a future in Charlotte because of sagging attendance. WNBA Commissioner Val Ackerman said in late July that such reports were premature and that the league preferred to keep a team in Charlotte.

"As far as Charlotte goes, the WNBA operating committees are having discussions and working out the specifics of the agreement right now," league spokesman Mark Pray said.

Baseball

Umpires' Union Meets

Trying to head off a deepening rift, supporters of umpires' union boss Richie Phillips met for five hours in Chicago with dissidents seeking his ouster. It marked the first time they gathered since 22 umpires lost their jobs in a failed mass-resignation ploy. "We've started a dialogue to try and get this union back together again," said NL umpire Jerry Crawford, the union president.

But AL umps Tim McClelland, Rick Reed and Larry Young, the three representatives of the anti-Phillips faction who attended the meeting, left without making any comment. A group of 14 umpires, calling itself the Major League Umpires Independent Organizing Committee, has begun collecting signatures to decertify the current union and start a new one.

Boxing

Waldorf Fight Card

Capitol Heights's Lamont Pearson will be the co-feature on a seven-bout card Friday at the Community Center in Waldorf. Pearson (7-0-1) will fight Patrick Rand (5-1-1) from Montgomery, Ala. Curtis Peoples (16-5), from Palmer Park, will meet New York's Pedro Sanchez (31-6-2) in the other co-feature. Other area fighters on the card include New Carrollton 140-pounder Kelvin Daly, Washington middleweight Haru Carter, Lanham featherweight Ernesto Rodriguez and Alexandria heavyweight Imani Lee.

Locally

Devers Coming to D.C.

Gail Devers, the 100-meter hurdles world champion who has the thyroid condition Grave's disease, will be in Washington Wednesday on the 46th stop of a nationwide educational tour about thyroid disease. Free thyroid testing will be available at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. . . .

HTS will hold its live, on-air, eighth annual HTS Leukemia Sports-A-Thon Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. Top items expected to be available include tickets to the 2000 Super Bowl, autographed memorabilia from the 1999 USA Women's World Cup soccer team and autographed baseballs from the 1999 All-Star Game. Sports agent David Falk and HTS announcer Larry Michael will host the auction, which benefits the National Capital Area Chapter of the Leukemia Society of America.