<
>

Gold medalist finishes in 11.38 seconds

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Marion Jones wasn't talking during the
first day of the U.S. track and field trials. She wasn't running
all that fast, either.

Jones was the seventh-fastest of the 16 qualifiers in the
100-meter quarterfinals Friday at 11.38 seconds, then slipped off
the track the back way, sending notice she would not talk to
reporters until after the final.

Lauryn Williams, the 20-year-old NCAA champion from Miami who
has the second-best time in the world this year (10.97), was the
fastest qualifier at 11.13 seconds. All of the runners raced into a
head wind at the Cal State-Sacramento track.

"Really great, super great," she said. "Things weren't coming
together out on the practice track and I was pretty nervous. But it
turned out to be a good nervous."

Four years ago, Jones blew away the competition in the trials in
the 100, including a 10.92 in the quarterfinals. She went on to win
an unprecedented five track medals in the Sydney Games, three of
them gold.

But she took last year off to have a baby, and this year has
been preparing for her Olympic bid under the cloud of an
investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

She has repeatedly, vehemently denied ever taking
performance-enhancing substances.

Jones has not been accused of doping offenses, but her boyfriend
Tim Montgomery has been charged with taking banned performance
enhancers and could face a lifetime ban, even though he did not
test positive.

The charges against Montgomery and three others competing in the
trials stem from the criminal investigation into the Bay Area
Laboratory Cooperative.

Chryste Gaines, one of the four accused, was eighth-fastest in
the 100 qualifying in 11.39.

That could explain why the normally outgoing, smiling Jones, who
usually has no problem stopping to chat briefly with reporters
after qualifying rounds, was grim through her brief time on the
track Friday.

"She isn't at the point where she was in previous years," said
Inger Miller, the 1999 world champion and second-fastest in the
quarterfinals Friday with a time of 11.28. "It's yet to be seen
where she is."

The 100 is the first of Jones' three events at the trials. She
also plans to compete in the long jump and 200.

Meb Keflezighi was the meet's first winner, running away with
the men's 10,000 in 27 minutes, 36.49 seconds. He broke the trials
record set 24 years ago by Craig Virgin, but the time was only the
15th-fastest in the world this year.

The top three in each event in the nine-day trials will make the
U.S. team in Athens, providing they've met the Olympic qualify
standard. The top three in the 10,000 -- Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman
and Dan Browne -- have met the standard.

Keflezighi and Browne also have qualified for the marathon, and
both have indicated they could run in that race only.

"I'm going to sit down with my coach and figure it out,"
Keflezighi said. "The goal in Athens is to get to the medals
stand, and my chances are better in the marathon."

Bob Kennedy, three-time U.S. champion in the 5,000, dropped out
of the 10,000 with a strained left Achilles' tendon.

"The old body just isn't as young as it used to be," he said.