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OLYMPICS; If the US had gome to Moscow

Just how well would Americans have done if they had competed in Moscow? Perhaps not as well as many had hope. In track and field and swimming, sports Americans have traditionally done well in the US might have been hard pressed to match its 1976 medal pace.

Based on the winning times turned in at last week's national swimming championships, Americans would have landed about 12 of 26 gold medals in Moscow. By comparison, Uncle Sam carted home 13 golds four years ago, all but one of those secured by the men.

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curate barometer -- especially in connection with the Olympics, which tend to bring out top performances in many athletes. No one knows how much better the Americans might have swum given the excitement and intense competition of the games. At the nationals, however, they at least knew what times they theoretically would have needed to win in Moscow.

In track and field -- and again, this is all highly speculative -- it appears the Americans would have wound up somewhere around the neighborhood of six golds they won in 1976, all of which came in the men's events. Defending champions Edwin Moses in the 400 hurdles and Mac Wilkins in the discus would have been favored in their events, as would Renaldo Nehemiah in the 110 hurdles, Stan Floyd in the 100 meters, and both relay teams, while some others such as US decathlon champion Bob Coffman ranked as solid contenders. Actually, if Americans Don Paige and Steve Scott had matched their best efforts of the season they might have picked up another pair of golds. In reality, however, they would have had their hands full beating the British duo of Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe, whose less than spectacular times in winning strategic 800- and 1 ,500-meter races should not really be used as measuring sticks.

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