by Jim Slater
GREENSBORO, North Carolina, Dec 6 (AFP) - America’sOlympic athletics coaches are confident their Athenscompetitors can match the dominating 1968 US Olympiansand produce peak performances without fearing for theirsafety.
US men’s coach George Williams and women’s coach SueHumphrey expressed confidence in their team’s talent andin Olympic organizers’ safeguards here Saturday at the25th annual USA Track and Field convention.
We have a great team,'' Williams said. All thingsequal, this team could be equal to the ‘68 team. I hateto say it because that team did so well. And there’s along way to go. A lot of things can happen.’’
A lot of historic things happened for Americans in thehigh altitude of Mexico City, where the 1968 USathletics squad won 15 gold, seven silver and six bronzemedals - most of the triumphs coming with world recordefforts.
We were one of the most prolific teams in history.It was like God picked us and put us on the team,'' saidJohn Carlos, whose medal podium Black Power’’ salutecaused him to be booted from the 1968 Games andimmortalized in history.
Bob Beamon smashed the long jump world record. DickFosbury flopped to high jump gold. Wyomia Tyus, JimHines and Tommie Smith won sprints in world record time.Lee Evans set a world record to lead a 400m US podiumsweep.
It might not be in all the same events as the '68team,'' Williams said. We’ve got good throwers andsprinters and we could do the same thing in the 200 that they did in the 400.’’
John Capel and Darvis Patterson went 1-2 in the WorldChampionships 200m, the first such US double in 20years, and J.J. Johnson was sixth. Jerome Young andTyree Washington went 1-2 in the 400m, bringing sweephopes there as well.
I've been around these young people a long time.I've seen them turn into a mature and talented group,''Williams said. It’s a great honor any time yourepresent your country and with the outstanding athleteswe have it’s a greater honor.
``This is a super team.’’
Williams was confident that 700 million dollars inOlympic security spending will keep US athletes safe,although he was disappointed the team cannot have red,white and blue bags and outfits to avoid becomingtargets for evildoers.
I'm sorry we can't show our colors. Our bags don'teven have USA on them,'' Williams said. We’ve got goodsecurity. Everyone is happy with it. They said everysixth person we bump into will be security.’’
It's a safe situation,'' Humphrey said. US Olympicofficials and the people in Greece are taking everyprecaution.’’
Boosting US hopes for Athens was the best US worldchampionship showing in a decade with a total of 10golds, eight silvers and two bronze medals, althoughKelli White’s two sprint titles are likely lost due to apositive drug test.
Marion Jones will be back, Tom Pappas will be adecathlon favorite and Tim Montgomery, Maurice Greeneand Jon Drummond will try to bounce back from 100mdisappointment at the worlds. But there figure to be newfaces as well.
We have outstanding athletes,'' Humphrey said. Wealways have a different core rise up in the Olympics.The turnover from the world championships is sometimesas much as 50 percent. We have that kind of talentbase.’’