Several months before the 1992 Olympics, Michael Jordan sat down in a suburban Chicago health facility with pole vaulter Sergei Bubka of Ukraine. I was there to chronicle their conversation for a Sports Illustrated story -- albeit a rather invented one -- about two superstars just chilling prior to the Barcelona Games that would re-define the concept of global marketing. Bubka was ill at ease, but Jordan -- aware that I needed something to put in the ol' notebook and genuinely curious about a guy who would stick a pole in the ground, turn himself upside down and tumble 20 feet to earth -- filled in all the conversational cracks.
Former world pole vault champion Dmitri Markov, who hailed from Belarus but scored his most notable achievements wearing Australian colors, has been forced to retire because of a persistent foot injury.
In the hallway between the locker rooms in Madison Square is a large photo of Irish miler Eamonn Coghlan breasting the tape with arms aloft -- and eyes closed. By the time he won the Millrose Games Wanamaker mile for a record seventh time, in 1987, Coghlan didn't need to see where he was going. "I could have run Millrose by the sound of the crowd," he says. "The oohs meant I was going to pass someone. The aahs meant somebody was trying to pass me. If somebody just won the high jump, that was another sound. I knew what every sound meant and felt like. The Garden was so alive. There was never anything like running at Millrose, and there won't ever be again."