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Newz Forum: OLYMPICS: Gail Devers barely gets into 100 semis

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posted on Aug, 20 2004 @ 06:25 PM
ATHENS (AP) - The U.S. track and field squad's most storied Olympian, 37-year-old Gail Devers, barely survived the second round in the women's 100 meters Friday, capturing the 16th and final spot in Saturday's semifinals, avoiding elimination by .01 seconds.

Devers joined teammates Lauryn Williams and LaTasha Colander in the semis. Williams won her second-round heat in 11.03 seconds, the second-fastest time overall. Colander was third in her heat.

Devers, who won gold in the 100 in 1992 and 1996, was fourth in her heat, the top three automatically qualify, but was one of four runners to qualify on time, in 11.31.

In the women's 100, Yuliya Nesterenko of Belarus had the fastest times in the first (10.94) and second (10.99) rounds. Also advancing were gold-medal favorite Christine Arron of France and Bulgaria's Ivet Lalova fastest in the world this year, with a 10.77 race in June.

Joining them in the semifinals will be 44-year-old Merlene Ottey, who is running in her seventh Olympics. The Jamaican native, now running for Slovenia, has eight Olympic medals.

Missing from the 100 were defending Olympic champion Marion Jones, world champion Torri Edwards, Kelli White and Chryste Gaines. Edwards and White are serving drug suspensions. Jones and Gaines did not qualify. Jones is under investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and Gaines has been charged by USADA with steroid use. Both claim they never used performance-enhancing substances.

U.S. Olympic trials triple jump champion Melvin Lister failed to make the finals in the event. Lister, who had the world-leading mark of 58 feet, 4 inches (7.78 meters) entering the competition, was 18th in the preliminary round at 54-7 (16.64). The top 12 advance.

U.S. men's coach George Williams has said that Lister was hit hard by the news that his training partner, Robert Howard, had died in a murder-suicide. Police said Howard killed his wife then jumped to his death in Little Rock, last Saturday.

Lister's U.S. teammates, Kenta Bell and Walter Davis, made it to Sunday night's finals. They finished 10th and 11th, respectively.

Women from war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq competed in the 100. Robina Muqimyar of Afghanistan, dressed in long running pants but wearing no head scarf, was seventh in her heat at 14.14 seconds, beating Fartun Omar Abukar of Somalia. Alaa Jassim of Iraq was last in her heat at 12.70 seconds.

Omid Marban, a 20-year-old man who appears on a television show called "Good Morning Afghanistan," said Muqimyar's performance would not be popular in that country.

"The majority of people in Afghanistan do not like Afghan women to run outside with some 20,000 people watching her," he said. "But she was wearing long trousers. That means she did respect her people, even though she did not have a scarf."

Competition began under a blazing sun Friday morning with the men's 20-kilometer walk.

Ivano Brugnetti of Italy won in a personal-best 1 hour, 19 minutes, 39 seconds, finishing five seconds ahead of Francisco Fernandez of Spain. Nathan Deakes of Australia took the bronze. Favorite Jefferson Perez of Ecuador, the event's world record holder, 2003 world champion and 1996 Olympic gold medalist, was fourth.

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