Originally created 06/27/99

Injured Johnson uncertain about European meets



EUGENE, Ore. -- Michael Johnson's day of decision is Monday.

That's when the double Olympic champion will test his ailing right quadriceps and decide whether he'll go to Europe Tuesday for a series of European meets.

Johnson injured the leg Thursday during a practice session for the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. At first, he thought it was a minor twinge and didn't even tell his coach.

On Friday, he warmed up and determined that it was too risky to compete in the championships and in the ballyhooed 200-meter showdown against 100-meter world record-holder Maurice Greene. On Saturday, Johnson returned home to Dallas to rest before making his decision.

"I don't think I can sprint right now," Johnson said before departing.

He insisted he was not ducking Greene.

"I don't have to be here," Johnson, the world record-holder in the 200 and the Olympic gold medalist in the 200 and 400, said. "Nobody is paying me to be here. I'm in the world championships."

Greene, who will try to qualify for the world 200 Sunday, said Johnson's withdrawal didn't concern him.

"I can't worry about that right now," he said. "I still have a job to do."

The national championships are the qualifier for the U.S. team for the world championships at Seville, Spain in August. As defending champion in the 400, Johnson is already in the worlds. He had planned to use the nationals as a determining factor on whether to run the 200 or 400 in Spain.

Johnson's next scheduled race is a 400 at Lausanne, Switzerland on Friday. He also plans to run a 200 at Rome and 400s at Linz, Austria and Stockholm, Sweden in July.

------

[bf]BACK IN THE USA:[nf] Just a few years ago, American Tom Petranoff was living in South Africa, his best javelin-throwing days behind him, and becoming a "professional beer drinker."

On Saturday, the 41-year-old got new life by finishing second in the javelin throw. His toss of 246 feet, 9 inches on his second throw trailed only Tom Pukstys, who threw 256 feet.

"I feel like a Neanderthal," the burly, 240-pound Petranoff said after his first international meet since the 1993 world championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

In 1989, Petranoff moved to South Africa, which was barred from international competition because of its policy of apartheid. The ban was lifted in time for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, but Petranoff withdrew because black South African athletes were angry that he had citizenship and they did not.

Petranoff retired in 1993, and spent time raising his four daughters and developing a line of javelins, one for competition and a tiny plastic one for children.

He and his family moved back in December 1997 when violence in the country moved too close to his home in the suburbs of Johannesburg. A neighbor who lived up the street was murdered in her driveway in front of her children.

"It was time to go," he said.

Petranoff, who lost 20 pounds for the national meet, said he plans to make a run at a spot on the U.S. Olympic team next year.

"I need to get to around 225 to be lethal," he said. "But that'll be next year."

------

[bf]TOGETHERNESS:[nf] Alan Culpepper won the 10,000 meters on Thursday, but he moved at a sprinter's speed after his wife, Shayne, came up limping after a third-place finish in the 1,500 Saturday.

Shayne Culpepper had been dealing with a painful foot injury the past few weeks, and it began acting up late in her race.

"She was coming down the last 75 meters, and she said it just popped," Alan Culpepper said. "She ran really tough. We just hope we can get this taken care of."

Shayne will take a couple of weeks off before running again, but the injury isn't expected to be serious.

She ran the race in 4:08.69, just over six seconds behind winner Regina Jacobs, but still good enough to join her husband for the world championships in Spain.

------

[bf]HAMILTON'S RETURN:[nf] Middle-distance runner Suzy Hamilton, nine weeks removed from surgery on her left Achilles' tendon, hopes to be running again in six weeks.

She is still undecided whether to compete this year, or wait until next season.

"The summer doesn't look good," Hamilton said Saturday.

Hamilton, the 1998 national outdoor champion and 1999 indoor champion at 1,500 meters, indicated she might return to competition in some road races in the fall, then prepare for a big outdoor season in 2000, capped by the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

"I want to break the American record in the 1,500 and next year is the right year to do it," Hamilton said.

Hamilton watched the first two days of the USA Championships, but returned home to Madison, Wis., on Saturday, the day of the women's 1,500 final.

"That's my race," she said. "I couldn't bear to watch."