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Johnny Gray Bows Out on Great Career
by Weldon Johnson

The first round of the men's and women's 800 meters was Thursday night and all of the favorites advanced to Friday's semifinals. However, the story of the evening centered around veteran Johnny Gray, 40, failing to advance to the next round.

Gray whose amazing career included Olympic team appearances in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, and an Olympic Bronze medal, had not been running well this outdoor season. However, some hoped he would show his old form that as recently as last year earned him a gold medal at the Pan Am Games.

However, it was not to be. Gray led his heat through the opening lap, but then began to fade as he was passed on the backstretch. He eventually faded to last in his heat in 1:53.21.

However, the fans did not care, as they gave Gray perhaps the loudest ovation of the night when he took a farewell lap during which he tossed his spikes into the crowd (and pretended like he was going to thow his shorts into the crowd as well). He announced after the race that he would never race at the open level again. His focus now is shifting to setting a master's (40 years or older) world record at the World Master's Games later this summer.

On the bus back to the hotel after the meet, Gray reminisced a bit about his career. He's intent on setting a world record at the Master's Championship, but as he joked, he better get in shape because as he said "raced terribly since I've turned 40."

Gray vowed never "to race again on the circuit in Europe" as he's too old and no longer has the motivation necessary. At the same time, he repeatedly prodded Santa Monica teammate Ned Brooks to go to Europe this summer and race. Brooks who has had a long season and ran collegiately at Seton Hall this year, wants to call it a season, but Gray said Brooks needs to go to Europe to set a personal best.

Gray who admitted to first going to Europe in 1979, when Brooks was a year old, truly had a remarkable career. He talked of racing Alberto Juantorena, Joaquin Cruz, Seb Coe, Steve Ovett, and Steve Cram. After Gray was asked who the best he ever raced was,and Khadevis Robinson tried to suggest Cruz, Gray was unhesitant in saying, "Seb Coe was the best. He had gears. Cruz was great and could motor along, but Coe could change gears whenever he wanted. He was the best."

Considering this came from the most experienced and durable 800 meter runner of all time, Seb Coe should be proud.

Results Below:

Men:

Heat 1-1, q-Mark Everett, unattached, 1 minute, 47.15 seconds. 2, q-Bryan Woodward, Reebok, 1:47.43. 3, q-Trinity Townsend, New Balance, 1:47.89. 4, Matthew Kalwinsky, Reebok, 1:49.16. 5, Anders Christiansen, unattached, 1:50.95. 6, Johnny Gray, Santa Monica TC, 1:53.27.

Heat 2-1, q-Jeffrey Kuzma, Air Force, 1:46.56. 2, q-Elliott Gaskins, Reebok Enclave, 1:46.62. 3, q-Trinity Gray, unattached, 1:46.64. 4, q-David Krummenacker, adidas, 1:47.54. 5, Matt Holthaus, Reebok, 1:48.55. 6, Brandon Rock, unattached, 1:53.85.

Heat 3-1, q-Derrick Peterson, Missouri, 1:48.90. 2, q-Lubert Lewis, Syracuse Chargers, 1:49.33. 3, Ned Brooks, Seton Hall, 1:50.03. 4, Jason Long, James Madison, 1:50.32. 5, Adam Ellison, unattached, 1:53.23.

Heat 4-1, q-Jason Pyrah, Nike, 1:46.62. 2, q-Jesse Strutzel, unattached, 1:46.70. 3, q-Bryan Berryhill, Colorado State, 1:47.01. 4, Ricky Etheridge, unattached, 1:49.64. 5, Charlie Gruber, Kansas, 1:54.14. Heat 5-1, q-Rich Kenah, Asics, 1:47.85. 2, q-Khadevis Robinson, 1:47.95. 3, q-Michael Stember, Stanford, 1:48.20. 4, q-Michael Schroer, Reebok, 1:48.51. 5, Al Royster, Santa Monica TC, 1:48.87. 6, Mike Miller, unattached, 1:49.55. 7, Aaron Samansky, Reebok Aggies, 1:52.44.

Women:

Heat 1-1-qPriscilla Hein, unattyached, 2 minutes, 4.87 seconds. 2, q-Nicole Teter, Sacramento TC, 2:04.90. 3, Ashley Wysong, Missouri, 2:04.97. 4, Jennifer Peck, unattached, 2:05.77. 5, Melanie Steere, BYU, 2:06.53. 6, Julian Reynolds, Nike, 2:11.48.

Heat 2-1, q-Joetta Clark-Diggs, Nike, 2:02.18. 2, q-Elizabeth Diaz, unattached. 2:02.22. 3, q-Amy Ross-Schroer, U.S. Army, 2:03.08. 4, q-Amy Wickus, Nike, 2:03.82. 5, Linetta Wilson, unattached, 2:04.65. 6, Kimberly Voyticky, unattached, 2:04.91. 7, Melissa Smith-Richards, Laker TC, 2:07.20.

Heat 3-1, q-Michelle Ave, Asics, 2:03.83. 2, q-Jennifer Toomey, Reebok, 2:04.61. 3, Kim Cornelieus, Fila, 2:04.73. 4, Chantee Earl, unattached, 2:05.40. 5, Janet Trujillo, Nike, 2:06.09. 6, Christine Gentile, unattached, 2:06.72. 7, Alishia Booterbaugh, Washington State, 2:07.10. 8, Elizabeth Cranston, unattached, 2:07.70.

Heat 4-1, q-Meredith Rainey-Valmon, Reebok, 2:02.96. 2, q-Miesha Marzell, Fila, 2:03.17. 3, Shaquandra Roberson, Rice University, 2:04.76. 4, Tamieka Grizzle, Florida, 2:05.35. 5, Sasha Spencer, Georgetown, 2:06.00. 6, Katrina DeBoer, Georgetown, 2:11.13. 7, Becky Megesi, Georgia Tech, 2:12.85.

Heat 5-1, q-Hazel Clark, Nike, 2:01.78. 2, q-Jearl Miles-Clark, Reebok, 2:02.07. 3, q-Stephanie Best, Asics, 2:02.96. 4, q-Mary Jane Harrelson, unattached, 2:02.97. 5, q-Debbie Grant, New Balance, 2:04.18. 6, q-Alisa Harvey, unattached, 2:04.62. 7, Hope Sanders, Indiana Invaders, 2:04.76.



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