Devers goes away without medal

ATHENS, Greece -- Not again.

In what will likely be her last Olympic race, Gail Devers didn't even make it 10 meters Sunday night. In a semifinal heat of the 100-meter hurdle -- the race she had always coveted but never won -- Devers pulled up lame and fell backward, landing underneath the first hurdle.

Devers wore a bandage around her left calf from an injury she sustained seven days ago on a high school track in Duluth, Ga. It appeared, as she sat on the track in obvious pain, that she had reaggravated the same injury.

Devers was helped off as her fellow runners watched from the finish line with concern. She favored her right leg coming out of the blocks and she went down with a grimace as if tugged from behind with a string. She landed on her back where she stayed for a few frightening seconds as the race went on. Then she sat up and grabbed her leg before trying to walk it off. She only took a couple of painful steps and went down again.

A five time Olympian, Devers is a three-time world champion in the 100-meter hurdles but has always been star-crossed in this event. She's won 10 of the past 14 U.S. titles -- including the past six. It's a different story at the Olympics. She fell and finished fifth in Barcelona in 1992. In Atlanta, she finished fourth in 1996. She was expected to win it finally in Sydney, but an injury forced her to pull out of the event.

At 37 years old, this most likely was Devers last chance for the medal. And that chance disappeared in a second.

Eric Adelson is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at eric.adelson@espn3.com.