Melvin Lister rebounded with flair from a disappointing performance in the long jump, an event in which he finished in seventh place this week. In Saturday's triple jump at the U.S. Olympic trials, Lister not only achieved the farthest jump in the world this year, but he also broke a trials record held by American great Michael Conley in winning the event.
The crowd at Alex G. Spanos Sport Complex erupted when Lister landed the jump, measured at 58 feet 4 inches, 3.5 inches better than Conley's previous record. That mark, set in 1992, came in the year Conley won the Olympic gold in the event.
Lister's achievement was even more remarkable, perhaps, given Lister's sponsorship status. Unlike runner-up Walter Davis and third-place finisher Kenta Bell, who are funded by Nike, Lister said he receives no money from anyone.
He has a full-time job installing car stereos at a Circuit City.
"I had nothing to lose in the triple jump, I just wanted respect," Lister said.
Bryan Clay upset the favored Tom Pappas in the decathlon in a close competition Saturday that came down to the last event, the 1,500 meters. Clay, the silver medalist in the 2004 world indoor championships, set personal bests in the pole vault and javelin to top Pappas, who had won three straight U.S. titles and is the reigning world champion.
Clay, the smallest athlete in the field at 5 feet 11, 174 pounds, accrued 8,660 points over the 10 events. Pappas compiled 8,517.
Greer Wins Javelin
Breaux Greer, a 2000 Olympian, won his fifth U.S. title on his first throw in the javelin, a heave of 270-4 that broke the Olympic trials record of 266-7 held by Todd Reich since 1996.
"I was kind of tired when I got up this morning, so I thought I'd give it everything on my first try," Greer said. "I got lucky. I think I hit an air pocket and it just kept going." . . .
Monique Hennagan, 27, won the 400 title Saturday in 49.56 seconds, the second-fastest time in the world this year, topping Texas sophomore sensation Sanya Richards, who finished second in 49.89, breaking her own American junior record for the second time this week.
"I think we are capable of breaking a world record," Hennagan said. "I want to represent the 'Old Heads.' I walk through the halls of my hotel, and they say, 'There goes that old head.' "
Allen Johnson Ready
In the 110 hurdles semifinals Saturday, Lake Braddock High's Allen Johnson posted the fastest time, 13.25 seconds, setting the stage for him to claim his 11th national title Sunday. Johnson said he felt jitters at the start of the morning's qualifying heats -- he won his -- but was relaxed by his performance.
"I feel great," Johnson said. "I'm ready to run. Sitting here in Sacramento watching everybody run; I'm a little glad to [finally] get that first round out of the way. I was actually extremely nervous." . . .
Mickey Grimes and Torri Edwards, two athletes from the famed track club HSI, both advanced to Sunday's finals in the 200. Grimes posted a time of 20.48 seconds, the sixth best of the day, to advance. Edwards, the reigning world silver medalist, qualified first in 22.38 seconds. Allyson Felix, last year's high school sensation who is seeking to make her first Olympic team, finished with the third-best time, 22.70 seconds.
Shawn Crawford, who ran a world-leading 19.88 seconds in the 200 qualifying Friday, topped all qualifiers in the 200 semifinals today with a time of 20 flat. Bernard Williams finished second overall in 20.15, just ahead of Darvis Patton in 20.17.
After the morning's quarterfinals, Williams was asked if the temperatures in the mid-nineties here had been bothering him.
"I don't care if it's in a snowstorm, I have to get on this team," Williams said. "I felt good. It's a revolution."