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Thread: Zurich 1988

  1. #1
    Member NickP's Avatar
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    Nov 2003

    Zurich 1988

    A few days before the annual Zurich Grand Prix, I spotted a few members of Team GB collecting their luggage at Heathrow airport. I presumed that they were returning from Sestriere before heading off for the Weltklasse. I called out to Colin Jackson, to which I received a ‘thumbs up’. Some of the Brits had performed really well in Italy. Linford recorded a 10.17 in the 100m and Colin smashed the European 110m hurdles record with a 13.11. I was looking forward to seeing their progress in Switzerland on the 17th. Better still, I couldn’t wait to catch up with the Carl v Ben rivalry, their first re-match since Rome 1987.

    On the evening of Wednesday the 17th I was invited out to dinner, but instead of mingling with the other guests I was glued to a TV. At around 7pm, the first event aired on BBC 1 was a scintillating 400m, a seriously ‘jaw to the floor’ event. The 43.30 that flashed up on the screen was insane. Reynolds thundering home in an 11.1 split was the most remarkable sight I’d come across in athletics since Koch’s 47.60 3 years earlier.

    400 A
    43.29 Butch Reynolds
    44.20 Danny Everett
    44.26 Steve Lewis

    I immediately got up, said goodbye to the host, and ran back home to make sure that my dad was taping all the action. I couldn’t risk not recording this track meet. Due to my own run over 1 mile, I didn’t get to see the two 800m races live, but I arrived just in time for the 100m C race.

    100 C
    10.20 Harvey Glance
    10.23 Stanley Floyd

    Eight years after taking 1st and 2nd place at the 1980 US Olympic Trials, Glance and Floyd were at it again. Back in Eugene a fast finishing Floyd had pipped Glance at the tape but this time his rush for the line wasn’t as successful. They both ran their annual bests in Zurich and it left me wandering what they would have done had they both gone to Moscow. Floyd had twice in 1980 bettered Wells’ 10.11 and had consistently been under 10.20 all season. Glance too had shown that he could rise to the occasion, with his 4th place in Montreal 1976.

    100 B
    10.12 Brian Cooper
    10.13 Lee McNeill
    10.15 Mike Marsh

    In the lead up to the B race commentator Ron Pickering mentioned that the 8 sprinters would all be getting down into a crouch start, and that 1988 marked 100 years since Charles Sherrill first got into that position. Later on, after Pavoni false started, Ron joked that in Rome he might have gotten away with it, but not here in Zurich. He later added that Pavoni was actually one of the most honest ones who condemned the Italian officials back in ’87.

    100 A
    9.93 Carl Lewis
    9.97 Calvin Smith
    10.00 Ben Johnson
    10.04 Chidi Imoh
    10.07 Linford Christie
    10.08 Dennis Mitchell
    10.09 Ray Stewart
    10.19 Desai Williams

    While the athletes from the B Final were jogging back to pick up their belongings, Ben was already causing a stir. Testing his blocks before stripping off his tracksuit, he leapt off the starting line with such force that the blocks were taken clean out of the ground. Skidding forwards and dropping into a push-up position, he effortlessly held himself up on his fingertips. At the gun, Ben was first off the blocks but the athletes were recalled. The amazing thing was that Ben made the decision before the starter could respond, putting the brakes on before the second gun sounded. Afterwards he complained that a camera had put him off and that he shouldn’t have been given a yellow card. At the second time of asking Ben stormed through 60m but Carl was at his shoulder by 80, and it even looked like Ben braked back as he knew that Carl had got him. It was tremendous sprinting by everyone and a perfect boost a month before Seoul.

    3:34.82 Dieter Baumann
    3:35.20 Jim Spivey
    3:35.22 Joachim Cruz

    The brilliant Brazilian who crushed Seb Coe in 1984 was finally back in action. Having suffered from Achilles tendinitis for the last 2 seasons, here he was again, loping along the back straight, trailing Guldberg and Kwizera with 250m to go. Then came the trademark Cruz kick, passing the front-runners at 200m. In the finishing straight it looked as though the win would be his, but then came Baumann, striding past the Brazilian to clock his best time of the year.

    200 A
    22.31 Danette Young
    22.33 Gwen Torrence
    22.36 Grace Jackson

    Danette Young, who had finished a disappointing 6th at the US trials, but had a string of good wins in Europe, was stretching away at the 150m point. With 10m to go Torrence pulled her back, only to be caught by Jackson’s raking strides. With a metre to go they all dipped simultaneously, but Jackson dived face first onto the track in an effort to get to the line. It looked like her shoulder was pretty badly scraped.

    400 B
    44.67 Derek Redmond
    45.04 Bert Cameron
    45.09 Clarence Daniel

    Derek posted the 3rd fastest time ever run by a Brit, only he and Roger Black having run faster. Cameron, with a PR 44.58 from 1981 had yet to break 45 sec in ’88. At the US Trials, Daniel interestingly finished slower as the rounds advanced, going from 44.75 to 45.12 to 45.37 in the final.

  2. #2
    Member NickP's Avatar
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    Nov 2003

    Re: Zurich 1988

    12.82 Sally Gunnell
    13.32 Pam Page
    13.64 Karen Cannon

    After the 6th hurdle Stephanie Hightower lost her balance and astonishingly cut across the 2 Swiss girls in lanes 1 & 2 as she ran out of her lane and onto the infield. Sally ran her 2nd British record in 2 weeks, having already broken the 400m hurdles record.

    8:33.97 Elly Van Hulst
    8:34.69 Mary Slaney
    8:37.30 Lynn Williams

    Another all-time great from 1984 was back, in the shape of Mary Slaney. In addition to Achilles problems, the US record holder had a low key ’86 and ’87 due to the birth of a daughter, but by the Olympic trials she was back to her best with a brisk 8:42. Forever the front runner, Slaney in Zurich was chased by Williams and Van Hulst for the entire race but down the back straight of the final lap, Van Hulst showed she had the stronger finish, stretching away to a world leading time.

    13.11 Roger Kingdom
    13.17 Mark McKoy
    13.17 Tonie Campbell
    13.34 Colin Jackson

    Kingdom was undefeated all season with a sea-level best of 13.14 from the Trials. Personally I was excited to see Renaldo Nehemiah for the first time. He had been reinstated as an amateur in 1986 but only ran once that summer. In ’87 he wasn’t TV material, with a best of only 13.71, so here in Zurich I was finally laying my eyes on the hurdles legend. I had always read and heard about his dazzling speed and technique, and that revolutionary 12.93 seemed out of this world. Here in Zurich though Nehemiah didn’t look so smooth, clipping a few hurdles and even wavering in his lane. His great natural quickness was also lacking. Meanwhile Kingdom was bulldozing, even though he had a terrible start. By the 8th hurdle he overhauled Campbell and McKoy, and went away to record the fastest sea level time of the year.

    1 Mile
    3:50.82 Said Aouita
    3:52.14 Joe Falcon
    3:52.50 Marcus O’Sullivan

    This was talked about as an attempt on the world record and there was even a clock on the roof of the stadium to register the 1500m time. Aouita still hadn’t made up his mind on whether he’d be doing the 800/1500m double in Seoul and in Zurich he wanted to show that he was still in the Cram/Bile league. He was on 2:51.11 with 1 lap to go, way inside Cram’s split from Oslo, but he slowed drastically in the last 400, the rest of the pack all closed in on him and he ended up nowhere near Steve’s 3:48.85.

    100 A
    11.03 Evelyn Ashford
    11.14 Grace Jackson
    11.16 Alice Brown

    What a shame Florence Griffith was absent from this meet. In fact so many greats of 1988 were missing. JJK, Felke, Lisovskaya, Donkova, Samolenko and Drechsler all chose to give Zurich a miss. On 17th July I was reading a newspaper whilst on holiday and on the last page I was taken aback by a full length photo of Florence in her Rome hooded bodysuit. “What could she have done to warrant such coverage?” Then I saw the numbers 10.49 at the top of the page. Extraordinarily the paper failed to state that it was only a quarter final, so for a whole day I was left believing that the U.S team for Seoul was made up of Griffith, Williams and Devers. “Surely there were other U.S favourites that could have filled the spots.” Having said that, Williams had been a medalist in Helsinki as well as fourth in Rome, and Devers already had a 10.98 from ’87 and could have been peaking perfectly for Olympic year. Well it ended up that the defending Olympic champion did make the team and in Zurich she trounced a world class field by over a metre. Incidentally Juliet Cuthbert ran faster in the B race but her 10.96 was wind assisted.

    3:56.22 Paula Ivan
    4:01.24 Doina Melinte
    4:04.25 Ruth Wysocki

    I’d never heard of Ivan before ’88 but in the lead-up to Zurich she had won all her races and had posted a world leading 3:58.80. At the Weltklasse she looked outstanding, leading by half a second after one lap and then just pouring on the pace, reaching 800m in 2:06.85. Storming away, she opened up an incredible gap by the bell, extending her lead in the last 400m and thrashing the field by a massive 5 seconds. Interestingly Ivan would peek over at the main stand every time she entered the home straight. Was she looking for cues from her coach Ion Puica?

    47.74 Kevin Young
    47.74 Danny Harris
    48.06 David Patrick

    3rd, 4th & 5th from the US trials lined up for one of the final events of the evening. Harris and Schmidt led at the first hurdle but shortly thereafter Young had caught up. Schmidt then began to fade, leaving the 2 Americans to battle it out around the top bend. They both reached the 300m point in 34.8 before racing down the homestretch neck and neck, maintaining their technique over the final hurdle and dipping simultaneously for the line in the tightest finish of the night. The commentators initially gave the win to Harris but the photo finish resulted in a dead heat.

    30 years on, this still ranks, for me, as the ultimate Grand Prix event.

  3. #3
    Administrator Angela Coon's Avatar
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    Apr 2005

    Re: Zurich 1988

    Nick is paying full attention!

  4. #4
    Member NickP's Avatar
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    Nov 2003

    Re: Zurich 1988

    Hey Ange,
    were you in Zurich during the '88 meet?
    What are your memories?

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