03 MAR 2000 General News

Old-timers expected to dominate indoor championships

Oldtimers expected to dominate indoor championships
Bert Rosenthal (AP)

2 March 2000 – Atlanta - Athletics' over-30 set is expected to have the biggest impact at the U.S. Indoor Championships, which begin Friday at the Georgia Dome.

Johnny Gray, oldest of the old-timers at 39, would like to see the youngsters step up in his speciality, the 800 metres, but no one has met the challenge consistently.

"They're scared to challenge themselves,'' said Gray, a seven-time national outdoor champion, four-time Olympian and the 1992 games' bronze medallist..

Gray, who will be seeking his first indoor title, has not shown any signs of slowing down. Last year, he won his second Pan American Games title, 12 years after winning his first, and this season won the Millrose Games for the second straight time.

"I feel just as strong if not stronger now,'' Gray said.

Gray feels he can compete for another three years.

Two others in the two-day meet - weight thrower Lance Deal, 38, and women's shot putter Connie Price-Smith, 37 - don't plan to try and match Gray's longevity. The have said they will retire after this season.

Deal, the 1996 Olympic silver medallist in the hammer throw, made his decision last year while struggling to recover from foot surgery.

The owner of the world best in the 16kg weight throw at 25.86 metres, Deal will be seeking his 12th indoor title.

Price-Smith has been the national indoor champion in the shot put five times, the outdoor champion in the shot nine times and in the discus champion six times.

"I decided I would go four more years after '96 because I wanted to do four Olympics,'' she said. "Not many have done four.

"I've been doing this for a long time. It gets harder and harder at 37.''

Among the other 30-plus athletes expected to strongly contend for titles are women's miler Regina Jacobs (36), women's 400 metre runner Jearl Miles-Clark (33), men's pole vaulter Jeff Hartwig (32), men's shot putter Kevin Toth (32), men's sprinter Jon Drummond (31) and women's sprinter Carlette Guidry (31).

The top younger entries include Stacy Dragila, world indoor record-holder and co-outdoor world record-holder in the women's pole vault; Tisha Waller, American indoor record-holder in the women's high jump, and Tim Harden, who handed world record-holder Maurice Greene his only indoor defeat last season in the 60 at the championships.

Friday's schedule includes finals in the men's triple jump and women's pole vault and long jump. The remaining 28 finals will be Saturday.