Sisters in lore race to fulfil family dream

Sydney 2000

The number of the new house Hazel Clark has bought in Gainesville, Florida, is 123. Tonight, on the eighth day of the United States track and field trials in Sacramento, she will be one-third of the family team chasing a unique1-2-3 in the final of the women's 800m. Having sailed through the semi-finals in the Hornet Stadium on Friday night, Hazel, her sister Joetta Clark-Diggs, and their sister-in-law Jearl Miles-Clark are on course for a clean sweep of Olympic team places.

The number of the new house Hazel Clark has bought in Gainesville, Florida, is 123. Tonight, on the eighth day of the United States track and field trials in Sacramento, she will be one-third of the family team chasing a unique1-2-3 in the final of the women's 800m. Having sailed through the semi-finals in the Hornet Stadium on Friday night, Hazel, her sister Joetta Clark-Diggs, and their sister-in-law Jearl Miles-Clark are on course for a clean sweep of Olympic team places.

The feat has never been achieved before and, judging by the impressive form they displayed on Friday, the Clarks are capable of running their way into the record books. Hazel, 22, eased to victory in the opening semi in 2min 01.58sec. And Jearl, 33, won the second in 2:02.80 with the veteran Joetta, 37, a comfortable qualifier in third place.

"It looks good for the final," Joetta said. "We're trying to go 1-2-3and the fans seem to want the Clark family to do it."

If the Clark family do succeed in their hat-trick mission it will also be a personal triumph for another member of the family team. The track racing trio are all coached by JJ Clark, the 35-year-old brother of Hazel and Joetta and husband of Jearl. "It's exciting for JJ and exciting for the three of us," Hazel said. "We train together. We push each other on. I just hope we can make it to the Olympics together."

Hazel, the rising star of the group, has yet to make an Olympic appearance but Joetta ran for the United States in Seoul in 1988, in Barcelona in 1992 and in Atlanta four years ago. Jearl has gone one better, making it on to the medal rostrum in Barcelona, as a member of the second-placed US 4 x 400m relay team, and in Atlanta, as the woman who anchored the American quartet to victory. She is also a former world champion - having won the 400m in Stuttgart in 1993 - and holds the US 800m record, 1:56.40.

She is not, however, the most celebrated member of the Clark clan. Joe Clark - father of Hazel, Joetta and JJ, and father-in-law of Jearl - is the disciplinarian high school principal Morgan Freeman portrayed in the Hollywood movie Lean On Me. A 1-2-3 in Sacramento tonight and the Clarks just might have another film deal on their hands.

The twin powers

The tale of the Harrison twins might also make film script material. Five years ago Alvin and Calvin Harrison were homeless. They lived in an old Ford Mustang. After their impressive performances in the 400m final in Sacramento last Sunday, though, like the Clark family, they are standing on the threshold of Olympic history. They could be the first twins to run in the same relay team at the Games.

Alvin secured his place in the US relay squad, and in the individual 400m, as runner-up to Michael Johnson. And Calvin earned an invitation to the Olympic team's training camp in Brisbane by finishing in fifth place. More than likely, he will run in the early rounds in Sydney, if not in the final, in which Alvin was a member of the gold-winning United States team four years ago.

Though no longer homeless, the Harrisons have still endured tough times since those Atlanta Games. Their sister, Africa, was murdered later that year. Their grandmother, who was largely responsible for raising them, died last year. And Calvin has suffered from paralysis of the feet. "Every time we tried to pick ourselves up, there was something else pushing us down," Alvin said. "We've just tried to hang in there. It would be great if we could run together in the relay final inSydney."

The twin impostor

It would have been great for Madeline de Jesus if she had run in the women's 4 x 400m relay final in the Los Angeles Games in 1984. She was getting ready to do so when it was discovered that she had not actually been Puerto Rico's second leg runner in the qualifying heats. She had injured herself in the long jump and asked her twin sister to take her place. The trouble was Margaret de Jesus was not a member of the Puerto Rican team. She was in Los Angeles as a spectator.

When the deception came to light, Puerto Rico's head coach refused to allow the recovered Madeline and the rest of the relay team to run in the final. All because of the impostor twin.

The lone protester

Wayne Collett ran into trouble at the 1972 Games in Munich when he and Vince Matthews, respectively second and first in the 400m final, pointedly refused to stand to attention at the medal ceremony, chatting and fidgeting throughout the playing of "The Star Spangled Banner". "I couldn't stand there and sing the words because I don't believe they're true," Collett said.

He was subsequently banned from competition by the International Olympic Committee but he will have a family interest in events on the Olympic track in Sydney in September. Regina Jacobs, winner of the 1500m and 5,000m in Sacramento (improving her US record to 14min 45.35sec in the final of the latter event on Friday night), is a cousin of the contemptuous Collett.

Literary heights

And finally... Matt Hemingway has no high-class track and field pedigree in his family. He does have literary lineage, though. The favourite for the high jump final in Sacramento tonight is a distantrelative of Ernest Hemingway. Ifhe fails to clear the opening height, ask not for whom the bar rolls.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory