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Steve Lewis - U.S.A. - 1988 Olympic Games 400m Champion.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 25 September 1988

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      Friday, 16 May 1969
      Los Angeles, U.S.A.
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Steve LEWIS - U.S.A. - 1988 Olympic Games 400m Champion.

Steve Lewis had a spectacular year in 1988, when the precocious 19 year-old not only completely rewrote the world junior all-time list in the 400m, but also proved his mettle in senior competition, by winning the Olympic gold medal. Lewis had not been a total unknown prior to 1988, having set a personal best of 45.76sec at the 1987 USA national junior championships. However, he caught many unawares when he set a new world junior record of 44.68sec at Westwood on 22 May. Steve further reduced the record to 44.61sec when he won his quarter-final at the USA Olympic Trials in Indianapolis on 17 July, and then slashed this time the following day, when he won his semi-final in 44.11sec. Despite this performance, Lewis could only finish third in the final in 44.37sec, having been well beaten by his older compatriots, Butch Reynolds and Danny Everett, who both ran under 44 seconds.


The following month in Zurich, Reynolds set a new world record of 43.29sec, comprehensively beating Everett and Lewis in the process, although Steve's 44.26sec was the fastest third-place time ever run. Reynolds was now the clear favourite to win the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Seoul, and few people took Lewis' chances seriously, even though he ran the fastest time in the quarter-finals of 44.41sec on 25 September (see photo above). In the final held three days later, Lewis and Everett set a fast pace in the early stages while Reynolds held back. Lewis had shaken off Everett as they entered the home straight, and although Reynolds closed near the finish, Lewis held on to win in another world junior record of 43.87sec. Steve won a second gold medal three days later, as a member of the victorious USA 4 x 400m relay squad which equalled the world record of 2min 56.16sec. (Ron Casey)


Men's 400m. Final. Olympic Games 1988
1. Steve Lewis   USA   43.87
2. Harry Reynolds   USA   43.93
3. Danny Everett   USA   44.09
4. Darren Clark   AUS   44.55
5. Innocent Egbunike   NGR   44.72
6. Bert Cameron   JAM   44.94
7. Ian Morris   TRI   44.95
8. Mohammed Al Malki   OMN   45.03




Photo of Steve Lewis taken by G Herringshaw. ©



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) .


Men's 400m. Final. Olympic Games 1992
1. Quincy Watts   USA   43.50
2. Steve Lewis   USA   44.21
3. Samson Kitur   KEN   44.24
4. Ian Morris   TRI   44.25
5. Roberto Hernandez   CUB   44.52
6. David Grindley   GBR   44.75
7. Ibrahim Ismail   QAT   45.10
8. Susumu Takano   JPN   45.18



1998     45.27     Malmö     03 AUG
1995     45.53     New York  21 MAY
1994     44.73     Berlin     30 AUG
1993     44.54     Zürich     04 AUG
1993     44.54     Zürich     04 AUG
1992     44.08     New Orleans 26 JUN
1988     43.87     Seoul        28 SEP