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Moses beginning to hear footsteps

Some reflections on last week's Olympic track and field trials here: Edwin Moses has dominated the 400-meter hurdles for years, but the footsteps behind him keep sounding closer all the time. ''It's always good to see young talent come along,'' the 1976 Olympic gold medalist said after winning the trials final. ''But I think I liked it better when I was winning by 15 meters,'' he laughed.

Moses has now won 102 straight races dating back to 1977, a streak which ranks third on track and field's all-time list to 140 by Romanian high jumper Iolanda Balas (1957-67) and 116 by American shot putter Parry O'Brien (1952-56).

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Moses's chief rival, Andre Phillips, was sub-par physically and failed to make the team, opevzo he way for virtual rookies Danny Harris and Tranel Hawkins to grab the other two spots.

Harris, the world junior champion, ran the 330-yard low hurdles in high school and only took up the 400 this year. He picked up his technique from watching a hurdler in a TV commercial. He's such a novice he still takes 14 steps, instead of 13 as Moses does, between jumps.

Hawkins, like Moses, grew up in Dayton, Ohio, but Edwin's career had little influence on the 6 ft. 5 in. yOungster, who didn't run high school track and attended junior college on a basketball scholarship.

World record holder Lee Evans thinks many of today's 400-meter runners make the mistake of going out too fast, only to fade at the end. ''You run the first 200 to get to the racing point,'' he says. ''By controlling your speed early you can start the race in the second 200, which is the key.''

His ability to run an even race made for an interesting illusion. ''People always thought I was kicking at the end, but I really was only maintaining,'' he says.

Ironically, the 1968 Olympic race in which he set the world record was one time he did slow down in the second half - but there was a reason. The thinner air of Mexico City caused a greater oxygen debt than normal late in the race, which may explain why his second 200 was about a second behind his early pace.

His 43.86 clocking and Bob Beamon's the 29 ft. 2 1/2in. long jump in the same Olympics are the most enduring records in track and field.

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Evans, a Californian who has turned to coaching, says his attitude was always , ''If a guy's from earth, he's in trouble. I can beat him.''

Antonio McKay displayed similar confidence in winning the trials 400. Asked if he could break the record, he said, ''I'm not going to break it, I'm going to shatter it. That's a promise. If it doesn't happen this year, it will happen next year.''

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