Bill Bowerman, the Oregon track coach who co-founded Nike and pressed foam rubber into his wife's waffle iron to create the modern running shoe, died. He was 88.

He died in his sleep Friday night or early yesterday in his home in Fossil, Ore., company spokesman Scott Reames said.

Bowerman helped introduce jogging to the masses with his book on the subject in 1967. He also was the U.S. track coach at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

He coached at Oregon from 1949 to 1972, and his most famous runner there was Steve Prefontaine, the brash prodigy who inspired a generation of distance runners. Prefontaine died in a car crash in 1975.

Nike chairman Phil Knight was one of Bowerman's pupils and called him one of the great influences on his life. Together they formed what became a multibillion-dollar shoe and apparel company. Bowerman retired from the Nike board of directors this year. . . .

Vladimir Kondrashin, coach of the 1972 Soviet Union men's basketball team that won the Olympic gold medal with a disputed victory over the United States, died at age 70. The cause of death was not clear. . . .

Victor Valle, who trained heavyweight contender Gerry Cooney and many other boxers, died at age 82 of heart failure. Valle was a fierce advocate of boxing safety and was instrumental in reducing world championship fights from 15 rounds to 12.


A Safer Race

A year after six people were killed in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, sailors made final preparations for the bluewater classic amid increased safety measures and a favorable weather report.

The smallest fleet in a decade--80 yachts--will set off from Sydney Harbor today for the 630-nautical-mile race.

Last year, the fleet's 115 boats sailed into ripping winds of up to 90 mph and high seas with 36-foot waves. Seventy-one boats withdrew and seven were abandoned, five of which sank.

An inquiry by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia found no single factor could be blamed for the disaster, but recommended a number of changes. All boats must have advanced satellite tracking equipment, more accurate Emergency Position Indicating Beacons on both the yachts and their life rafts, and a waterproof hand-held VHF radio.

Figure Skating

Slutskaya Triumphs

Irina Slutskaya, in a free program set to melodies from "Carmen," beat world champion Maria Butyrskaya to win the Russian Figure Skating championships. Slutskaya landed five triple jumps, including a clean triple-double combination, to take the title. Butyrskaya, the six-time Russian champion, was second and Viktoria Volchkova was third.


Bosom Buddy

A 7-foot-9 North Korean basketball player says he has no plans to play in the NBA.

Ri Myung Hoon, the world's tallest known athlete, said he is happy to play in the communist country ruled by Kim Jong Il.

"It's my honor to play games in the bosom of the general [Kim]. Then why do I need to go somewhere else to play?" Ri told South Korean reporters.


Brazil Is Best

Pele and the Brazilian soccer team finished first in a worldwide poll of Associated Press subscribers on the top international sports story of the 20th century. Three other defining stories received prominent mention: the Munich Olympic massacre, the career of Muhammad Ali and the Hitler-defying heroics of Jesse Owens. Sports editors and broadcasters from more than 30 countries--not including the United States--listed their top 10 choices.