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Newz Forum: OLYMPICS: Felix advances in 200 meters

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posted on Aug, 23 2004 @ 09:40 AM
Allyson Felix led three American women into the second round of the 200 meters on Monday, posting the fastest time of 22.39 seconds in the qualifying heats.

Joining the 18-year-old Felix in the quarterfinals later Monday were U.S. teammates Muna Lee, who won her heat in 22.57, and LaShaunte'a Moore, who placed third in her heat in 23.10.

Also advancing were France's Christine Arron, who was eliminated in the semifinals of the 100 after being favored to win that race, and 44-year-old Merlene Ottey.

Felix, the U.S. champion, got off to a far better start than she did in her last major international competition. At the world championships last summer in Paris she barely advanced out of the first round and was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Marion Jones, the defending champion in the 200, dropped out in the second round at the U.S. Olympic trials last month and didn't qualify for the event.

Athanasia Tsoumeleka of Greece got the crowd going early Monday, winning the 20-kilometer walk in 1 hour, 29.12 seconds, then parading around the stadium with a Greek flag. Olimpiada Ivanova of Russia won the silver in 1:29.16, while Australia's Jane Saville took bronze in 1:29.25.

U.S. trials winner Bryan Clay led the decathlon after two of 10 events with 2,039 points. He got the top time in the 100 in 10.44 and recorded the best long jump of 26 feet, 1[ inches. World champion Tom Pappas was 10th, while world-record holder Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic was fourth, 125 points behind Clay.

Three-time world champion Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic withdrew after the 100.

On Sunday night, Justin Gatlin outran the fastest field in Olympic history to become the youngest 100-meter champion in 36 years.

Gatlin ran a personal best 9.85 seconds, barely holding off Portugal's Francis Obikwelu, defending gold medalist Maurice Greene, outspoken teammate Shawn Crawford and Jamaica's Asafa Powell.

It was the first time in Olympic history that five men broke 10 seconds in a race. Four did it at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Obikwelu finished in 9.86 for silver. Greene took bronze in 9.87 and Crawford was fourth in 9.89.

"I said it was going to be the most exciting race in the world, and it was," said Gatlin, a 22-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native who lives in Raleigh, N.C. "This is what I train for, that's why I shoveled the snow off North Carolina tracks. That's why I'm here. I'm here to win the gold medal."

In the days preceding the race, Gatlin listened quietly while Greene, Crawford and Powell proclaimed themselves the front-runners. When Crawford said the only person who could beat him was himself, Gatlin responded, "Beat yourself up!"

Sure enough, Crawford got off to a bad start and never was a factor. With no clear leader as the race drew to a close, Gatlin took control near the very end, shedding a few tears after he crossed the finish line, then dropping to his knees and clasping his hands in prayer.

Crawford, his training partner, gave him a big hug and screamed, "Do you know what you just did?"

"That race on his part was almost flawless," Crawford said later. "That was the race of his life. I'm just glad I was part of the field that helped push him to that. I know he's going to carry that title, Olympic gold medalist in the 100, with honor and dignity."

Gatlin and Crawford are coached by Trevor Graham, the former coach of Jones and Tim Montgomery - the world record holder in the 100 at 9.78. Montgomery failed to qualify for the Olympics and faces a lifetime ban if found guilty of using steroids. He has been charged with drug use by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

After Gatlin's victor, Graham admitted publicly for the first time that he was the mystery coach who sent a syringe of the previously undetectable steroid THG to USADA last summer, triggering the federal probe of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which has turned track upside down.

Four men face criminal charges and six top track and field athletes have been suspended - with four others, including Montgomery, awaiting resolution of their cases. Baseball stars such as Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi also have been implicated. They have denied drug use.

Meanwhile, 37-year-old Gail Devers had her dreams of winning a medal in the 100 hurdles shattered again Sunday when she failed to clear the first hurdle because of a strained left calf. One of the greatest hurdlers of all time, Devers has gold medals in the 100 and 400 relay, but nothing from her signature event.

Mizuki Noguchi of Japan won the marathon Sunday over the ancient course that gave the race its name. Deena Kastor was third, giving the United States its first marathon medal since Joan Benoit's gold in Los Angeles 20 years ago.

"It's incredible," Kastor said. "I was in tears the whole last lap."

Adrian Annus of Hungary won the gold medal in the hammer throw. Greece's Fani Halkia thrilled the home crowd by setting an Olympic record of 52.77 seconds in her 400-meter hurdles semifinal.

Befitting this drug-plagued year for the sport, the first woman to win a gold medal at Ancient Olympia - Russian shot putter Irina Korzhanenko - was stripped of her medal Monday by the IOC.

Gatlin also has had problems with drugs.

He tested positive for an amphetamine at the 2001 U.S. junior championships. The drug was contained in prescription medication Gatlin had been taking for 10 years to treat a form of attention deficit disorder.

The International Association of Athletics Federations gave him early reinstatement from a two-year ban in July 2002, but said a second violation would result in a lifetime ban.

His mother, Jeanette Gatlin, said he just told her one day he didn't need the medication anymore.

"He said, 'I can concentrate and focus' and obviously running track he can concentrate and focus,' she said. "So we just took him at his word."


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