Athletics: Johnson takes control by rising to occasion

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL JOHNSON was as good as his word and dominated the eagerly awaited 400 metres final at the United States trials at Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday. The world 200m champion left no doubt to his capabilities by winning in 43.74sec - the fourth-best performance of all time.

Butch Reynolds, with 44.12, and the Olympic champion, Quincy Watts, 44.24, also booked their pass- sage to the World Championships in Stuttgart in August, but Antonio Pettigrew will not be there to defend his title. He finished fifth in 44.45.

Johnson waited before opting to contest the 400m distance rather than the 200m after a thigh injury last month prevented his speed training. 'I don't need as much training for the 400m and I don't need a lot of races under my belt for it,' he said. 'A lot of people doubted I could make it through the rounds. I hadn't much practice and I had missed a lot of training. But coming out of the last turn I felt I had control of the race.'

Reynolds, banned for two years after a positive drugs test which he is still contesting in the courts, said: 'I came here to make the team and I'm very happy with my time. There were no distractions and I could just fully concentrate on my race.'

Carl Lewis had to be satisfied with second place in the 200m, which was won by Mike Marsh in 19.97. Jason Hendrix finished third.

Elsewhere there were few suprises. Gwen Torrence came home ahead of Dannette Young and Michelle Finn in the women's 200m and Mark Everett beat Johnny Gray and Jose Parrilla in the men's 800m. In the long jump, Jackie Joyner-Kersee won the women's event with 7.02m and Mike Powell dominated the men's with 8.53.