SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Perhaps it was the stress of fighting
doping allegations. Maybe it was the physical and emotional strains
of motherhood. Or perhaps time, and a new generation of sprinters,
are finally catching up with her.
Marion Jones failed to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team in the
100 meters Saturday night, losing out on a chance to defend her
gold medal in her signature event at the Athens Games.
Jones started quickly but seemed to struggle as the race
progressed and finished fifth in the final at the U.S. Olympic
trials. The top three finishers automatically make the team.
Jones, who won five medals at the 2000 Sydney Games, still can
make the Olympic team if she qualifies in the 200 meters or long
jump. Or she could be picked for a relay team.
The defeat comes at a difficult time for perhaps the biggest
U.S. Olympic star. She is under investigation by the U.S.
Anti-Doping Agency, although she has repeatedly denied using drugs
and has not been charged by USADA.
The 28-year-old Jones, who seemed a little stunned in the last
few strides of the race as she realized she was not going to
qualify, walked off the track smiling and even signed a couple of
autographs for fans. But she walked quickly past a horde of
Jones, known for her bubbly personality and media savvy, was
escorted by a personal bodyguard as she stormed off the track
without answering questions.
"When I talk, you guys have something negative to say. When I
don't talk, you have something negative to say," she said. "I'd
rather not talk and spend the time with my son."
Jones has a 1-year-old son with Tim Montgomery, the world record
holder in the men's 100.
LaTasha Colander won the final in 10.97 seconds, tied for second
fastest in the world this year. World champion Torri Edwards was
second in 11.02 and NCAA champion Lauryn Williams took the third
Olympic spot in 11.10.
Gail Devers, a two-time Olympic champion in the 100, was fourth
in 11.11, followed by Jones in 11.14.
Having barely missed qualifying in the 100-meter dash, Devers must focus on the 100-meter hurdles, which she has never won at the Olympics. Devers, a three-time world champion in the hurdles starts qualifying next Saturday.
"They are two separate events and two separate times," Devers said. "As I look at them both, I go into the hurdles seeing I need to get a berth on the Olympic team and the hurdles is my only chance at that. I don't look at the relay, I don't look at anything else.
"This is my only chance now, to get out there and run these hurdles."
Jones once dominated the 100. In addition to being the reigning
Olympic champion, she is a former two-time world champion and had a
streak of 42 straight wins in finals from 1997 to 2001.
Jones' boyfriend, Montgomery, advanced to the semifinals of the
men's 100 by finishing fourth in his quarterfinal heat with a time
of 10.16 seconds.
Montgomery has been charged with steroid use by USADA and faces
a lifetime ban if found guilty.
Even if he makes the U.S. team, he still must await a ruling in
his case by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport. If the
CAS rules against him, Montgomery would be barred from the Athens
The fastest time in the men's 100 quarterfinals was 10.00 by
Shawn Crawford, followed by John Capel in 10.01. Third fastest was
reigning Olympic champ Maurice Greene (10.06), who is back in top
form after two years of lackluster results.
Greene used to hold the world record of 9.79 until Montgomery
broke that by a hundredth of a second in 2002. If Montgomery is
found guilty of doping, he likely will forfeit the world record and
it will revert to Greene.
Olympic silver medalist Adam Nelson won the shot put with a mark
of 71 feet, and was joined on the U.S. squad by Reese Hoffa and
John Godina. Godina will be competing in his third Olympics -- he
won silver in 1996 and bronze in 2000.
Christian Cantwell, who has the four longest throws in the world
this season, finished fourth and failed to qualify for the
Olympics. He fouled on five of his six attempts.
Shelia Burrell won the heptathlon. Joining her on the U.S. team
for the Athens Games will be Tiffany Lott-Hogan, who finished
second Saturday, and Michelle Perry.
Chryste Gaines, who along with Montgomery is among the four
sprinters charged with steroid use by USADA, finished fifth in her
100 semifinal and did not qualify for the final.