Following his incredible 1988 season, when he won the Olympic 400m
gold medal while still a junior, it seemed that Steve Lewis had a long
and lucrative athletics career in front of him. However, although he
still managed to rank amongst the world's top 400m runners each year,
Lewis was plagued by illness and injury in subsequent seasons, which
undoubtedly prevented him from reaching his true potential. In 1989, he
produced a fast time of 44.47sec early in the year, only to see a
hamstring injury prematurely curtail his season. It was a similar story
in 1990, when his season finished after he won his first and only
national title at Norwalk on 16 June. In 1991, it was his early season
that was affected by injury, which led to his failure to finish his
semi-final at the national championships, and thus miss an opportunity
to gain selection to the World Championships in Tokyo.
However, it was a
different story in 1992, as Lewis recorded his fastest time since his
1988 Olympic victory, when he finished second in a time of 44.08sec at
the USA Olympic trials in New Orleans on 26 June. Later that year, at
the Olympic Games in Barcelona, the gold medal for the 400m seemed to be
a two-man contest between Lewis (see photo above) and compatriot
Quincy Watts, when they both easily won their respective semi-finals.
In the final, on 5 August, Watts was an easy winner over Lewis, who
added an Olympic silver medal to the gold he had won four years before.
In the final of the 4 x 400m relay, Lewis produced a 43.4sec final leg
to lead the USA team to victory and a new world record of 2min 55.74sec.
The rest of Lewis' career was affected by injury and an ongoing viral
illness, and he never again competed at a major international
championships. (Ron Casey) .