August 2, 1996 in Sports

Lewis May Have His Opening Achilles Injury Forces Burrell Out, Lewis Could Be His Replacement

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Leroy Burrell, a friend and Santa Monica Track Club teammate of Carl Lewis - and also a fellow Nike client - pulled out of the men’s 400-meter relay Thursday. He did it because he’s hurt, not to hand Lewis a golden opportunity.

Insulted by the thought he’d consider giving up a shot at gold himself, Burrell snapped: “Would you give up a Pulitzer Prize? No. That’s ridiculous.”

Besides, Lewis isn’t even the definite fill-in sprinter.

“Our next step is to find someone to take (Burrell’s) place,” U.S. coach Erv Hunt said. “We’ll do what’s best for the team and the country.”

What Lewis wants is a record-10th career gold medal, and this would be his last shot. The U.S. is highly favored in the event.

Though he declined to name a replacement Thursday, Hunt has indicated Lewis would be a likely candidate if an injury occurred. Burrell, the former 100-meter world record-holder, was slated to run in the Olympic final round with Jon Drummond, Mike Marsh and Dennis Mitchell.

Burrell’s right Achilles started hurting him Wednesday in practice. “It’s real disappointing,” Burrell said. “This whole year has not been the greatest for me.”

Regarding Lewis, he added: “That’s a decision for the coaches, not me.”

“I feel bad for Leroy,” Hunt said. “For him not to be given a chance to win a gold medal is disappointing.”

Hunt has been under pressure to include the 35-year-old Lewis on the relay team, particularly since his stunning gold medal performance in the long jump. Lewis, anchor on the last three Olympic relays, has campaigned for a spot and has questioned being excluded.

It became an issue when Lewis declined to attend a mandatory relay camp last month in North Carolina. At the time, Lewis was not among the four sprinters named to run in the Olympic final, and Lewis said he didn’t want to run in the preliminary rounds.

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