Olympics: Barcelona '92: Wind denies records

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The Independent Online
HEIKE DRECHSLER and Mike Powell recorded the longest jumps in history in Sestriere, Italy, yesterday, but the assistance of the wind negated world records.

Drechsler, Germany's European women's champion, leapt 7.63 metres but was denied a world record by a wind reading just one centimetre above the allowable limit of two metres a second. Powell, the American holder of the men's long jump world record, jumped four centimetres beyond it to 8.99m.

Drechsler's jump, made at her fourth attempt, was 11cm further than the existing record set four years ago by Galina Chistyakova of the then Soviet Union.

'It was really tough luck,' Drechsler said. 'The landing was not perfect as the take-off was very flat because of the wind. That's why I didn't think I could jump so far. But a jump of 7.63m proves that perhaps 7.70 is possible.'

Powell, who broke Bob Beamon's 23-year-old long jump world record with a leap of 8.95m at last year's Tokyo world championships, came close to breaching the nine-metre mark aided by a following wind of 4.4m a second. 'I'll break the world record in the Barcelona Olympics,' he said.

The 28-year-old, whose world record came after a prolonged battle with Carl Lewis, took advantage of the strong following wind to jump 8.65m, 8.75m, 8.80m, 8.84m, finishing his series with an effort just one centimetre short of the nine-metre barrier.

Because of the wind, Powell and Drechsler, who now has seven of the 10 longest women's jumps to her name, missed out on a Ferrari which was the prize for anyone who broke a world record.

Lewis was not competing against Powell yesterday, but did win the 100m at the meeting. Having failed to qualify for either the 100 or 200m in Barcelona, he clocked 9.98sec to win ahead of his fellow Americans, Leroy Burrell and Mark Witherspoon, who are both in the US team.

'If I were running in Barcelona I'd run 9.80 seconds,' said Lewis, who had been struggling with a sinus infection when he failed to qualify for the 100m at the US trials in New Orleans last month.

However, Powell's form suggests that Lewis could be struggling to win a third successive gold in the long jump - his only event at the Games.

Although Burrell would be disappointed to have finished behind Lewis in the 100m - just as he had done when Lewis set the current world record of 9.86sec in Tokyo last year - Burrell could be comforted knowing that his wind-assisted time was faster than anything his British challenger Linford Christie has produced this year.

There was little comfort for other British medal challengers. Roger Black will not be pleased to hear that Steve Lewis, the Olympic 400m champion, warmed up for the defence of his title by earning victory in a swift 44.27sec.

John Regis's American opponent Mike Marsh clocked a wind- assisted 19.79sec in the 200m and the South African Elana Meyer, the woman who could disturb Liz McColgan's 10,000m hopes, again looked in superb shape as she won the 2,000m in 5min 47.85sec.