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Original Issue

The Soviets tune up for—what?

He got his nickname, Skeets, as a babe, his father said, because he crawled so fast "he seemed to be running." Against Renaldo Nehemiah, every other high hurdler seemed to crawl last year. A University of Maryland sophomore, Nehemiah established world records at four hurdle distances during the indoor season, and then, in his first meet outdoors, he set the mark (13.16) in the 110 meters. In May at the UCLA-Pepsi meet he beat unfriendly rival Alejandro Casañas of Cuba and lowered the record to 13 flat. Then in June at the NCAAs he was timed in a wind-aided 12.91. Maryland Track Coach Frank Costello put it this way: "Nehemiah will do to the hurdles what Bob Beamon did to the long jump."

Aleksandr Puchkov won the 110 hurdles in a rehearsal for the maybe-Olympics.

Eamonn Coghlan set an indoor mile mark of 3:52.6.

The 20-year-old Nehemiah lost but one hurdles race during the indoor and outdoor seasons.

A winded Mary Decker set a mile record.

Candy Young broke an indoor hurdles mark.

Step by step, Edwin Moses trained to remain the best intermediate hurdler in all the world.

Larry Myricks long-jumped farther—27'11½"—than anyone had since Bob Beamon in 1968.

Steve Ovett attacked the mile, 1,500 marks.

Miruts Yiftir of Ethiopia (above) took the World Cup 5,000 and 10,000; Pam Spencer of the U.S. high-jumps at the Pan-Am Games.

Houston McTear (right) nips Cuba's Silvio Leonard in the 100 meters at the UCLA meet.

Evelyn Ashford has that golden look about her.

After the Golden Mile, Coe parades Union Jack on a makeshift pole.


An unprecedented assault was made on middle-distance records, led, of course, by Sebastian Coe. The young Briton broke three world marks in an incredible 42 days, sandwiching his 3:49.0 mile between a 1:42.4 in the 800 meters and a 3:32.1 in the 1,500. The mile record took a beating indoors, too, at the Jack-in-the-Box games in San Diego, where Eamonn Coghlan of Ireland popped up with a time of 3:52.6, 2.3 seconds under Dick Buerkle's old record. Americans Steve Scott and Steve Lacy also finished under the former mark, making this the first time three milers had broken a world record in one race. Don Paige of Villanova, a Jim Ryun look-alike, established himself as America's miler of the future by winning the 800 and 1,500 double at the NCAA championships. Britain's other mile star, Steve Ovett, skipped the Golden Mile, but he narrowly missed breaking Coe's 1,500 and mile records in other races.

Renaldo Nehemiah and Edwin Moses, the world's fastest alto-sax player and engineer, respectively, were both high in the hurdles. Nehemiah lost only one race during a long campaign in which he twice lowered the 110-meter hurdles record, and Moses stayed unbeaten in the 400 hurdles, missing his 47.45 world mark by .08 of a second at World Cup II in Montreal. The World Cup was also the site of the biggest triumph for American women: Evelyn Ashford's victory in the 200-meter dash over Marita Koch of East Germany, who set world marks in both the 200 and 400 last year. The ever-shy Evelyn fled the stadium after her victory but returned the next day to beat another East German record holder, Marlies G‚Äö√†√∂‚Äö√†√áhr, in the 100. At the same games, and in the same stadium in which he broke an ankle warming up for the 1976 Olympic finals, Larry Myricks long-jumped 27'11½", the longest ever at sea level and second only to Bob Beamon's 29'2½" in the Mexico City Games. Other notable performances in 1979 were Mary Decker's American mile record of 4:23.5 and Dan Ripley's world indoor pole-vault mark of 18'5½". And Candy Young, 16, shoved Joe Namath aside as Beaver Falls, Pa.'s premier athlete by breaking the world indoor record in the 60-yard hurdles.