Athletics: Burrell breaks the 100m record: New world mark

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LEROY BURRELL finished off his 100 metres in last night's Lausanne Grand Prix with a cartwheel. He was entitled to feel exuberant - his time of 9.85sec was a world record, taking 0.01sec off the time his friend and training partner Carl Lewis ran in winning the 1991 world title.

Burrell, who set a world record of 9.90 earlier in that world championship year, was one of three men to dip under 10 seconds in the Swiss race. Davidson Ezinwa, of Nigeria, who set the previous season's best of 9.94 earlier this week in Linz, was second in 9.99, with Dennis Mitchell, Burrell's US team-mate, given third in the same time.

'I'm just happy to have broken the world record again,' Burrell said. 'I knew it was going to be fast. I was very, very confident. It was just one of those days when it all came together. I still feel I could run faster. My goal is to be ranked No 1.'

That ambition hardly looked in doubt back in 1991 after Burrell had set his world record at the US Championships. But since that time his career has performed a few figurative cartwheels. In the summer of 1991 on the fast - some have said illegally fast - Tokyo track, Lewis surpassed his friend's world record. Burrell, who ran 9.88, had to settle for silver.

In 1992, Burrell went into the Olympics once again as favourite for the title, but appeared unable to respond to the pressure, finishing fifth as Linford Christie took the gold.

Last year he failed to qualify for the World Championships at the US trial, but gave evidence that his standard was still of the highest order when, shortly before the championships, he beat a field that included Christie at the Zurich Grand Prix - an event Burrell referred to as his own world championships.

Neither Christie nor Lewis was there to challenge him last night. Lausanne was not on Christie's racing schedule; Lewis, who won there in style last year, was reported to have asked for dollars 100,000 (pounds 660,000) to return, a figure which the promoter refused to pay.

Burrell, presumably, will be satisfied to have settled for less. At the age of 27, there appears to be plenty more to come from him.

Mitchell, who won this year's US Championships, felt he could beat last night's record. 'I am not satisfied with my race,' he said afterwards, 'and I think I can beat this record soon. Today was Leroy's day, mine will come.'

Earlier this season Christie, when asked to identify the man most likely to challenge his position as world No 1 sprinter, named Burrell. Last Saturday, Lewis insisted that his Santa Monica training partner was in great shape, and forecast that he would take the world record soon. He did it soon enough.

Perhaps Burrell, who is blind in one eye, will spare a thought for his old baseball coach at Pennwood High School in Pennsylvania. 'Leroy,' he said. 'You can't bat and you can't catch, but you sure can run bases. Go off and work with the track team.' Thanks again, coach.

Photograph, page 39

----------------------------------------------------------------- EVOLUTION OF THE MEN'S 100M WORLD RECORD THIS CENTURY ----------------------------------------------------------------- 10.6sec Donald Lippincott (US) . .1912 10.4 Charles Paddock (US) . . . . 1921 10.3 Percy Williams (Can) . . . . 1930 10.2 Jesse Owens (US) . . . . . . 1936 10.1 Willie Williams (US) . . . . 1956 10.0 Armin Hary (Ger) . . . . . . 1960 9.95 Jim Hines (US) . . . . . . . 1968 9.93 Calvin Smith (US) . . . . . .1983 9.92 Carl Lewis (US) . . . . . . .1988 9.90 Leroy Burrell (US) . . . . . 1991 9.86 Lewis . . . . . . . . . . . .1991 9.85 Burrell . . . . . . . . . . .1994 -----------------------------------------------------------------