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U.S. fails to finish after bad handoff

ATHENS, Greece -- A failed baton handoff doomed the U.S.
400-meter relay team, ending Marion Jones' last chance for a medal at the Athens Games.

An hour after she finished fifth in the long jump, Jones,
running second, was unable to make the handoff to 100-meter silver
medalist Lauryn Williams. Williams left too early and Jones could
not reach her with the baton until it was too late.

Jamaica won in a time of 41.73 seconds. Russia won the silver
medal at 42.27 seconds. France got the bronze at 42.54 seconds.

Tayna Lawrence ran the opening leg for Jamaica, followed by
Sherone Simpson, Aleen Bailey and Veronica Campbell.

"If we all stay healthy, no one can beat us in the coming
years,'' Lawrence said. "Our only enemies are our injuries.''

Jones, running second, was close to the lead as she approached
Williams. But Jones reached once, shouted "Wait up! Wait up!'' as
she reached a second time, then finally was able to give the baton
to Williams on the third attempt -- nearly running into her younger
teammate.

By then Williams was already out of the 20-meter handoff zone.
She stopped running, and Jones put her arm around Williams as the
two walked to the end of the track.

Jones clutched Williams' hand tightly as
the two left the track after the race, and tears trickled down
Jones' face when she was asked later about her Olympic experience.

"It was a rough one,'' she said, breaking into more tears. "I
just couldn't get the baton to Lauryn. I said, 'Wait, wait, hold up,
hold, stop, wait,'

"At the end of the 100 I was a little out of breath. I just couldn't get it to her. It didn't happen
today.''

The United States had won gold in every Olympic women's
400-meter race since 1984 -- except for the 2000 Sydney Games, when
handoff problems involving Jones and others resulted in a
third-place finish.