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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Shoe-Ins

Track and field: Jones and Greene are dressed for success in their scintillating victories in the 100.

September 24, 2000|MIKE PENNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SYDNEY, Australia — The shoes said it all. One pair was spangled with stars and stripes, the other was plated with glistening hot-rod chrome.

All-American.

Built for speed.

Together, they transported a pair of Olympic rookies named Maurice Greene and Marion Jones to the men's and women's 100-meter championships Saturday, giving the United States its sixth sweep of the Olympic 100-meter gold medals--and first in a non-boycotted, non-drug-tainted meet since 1968.

Greene, his fleet feet wrapped in replicas of the American flag, outsprinted close friend and training partner Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago for the men's title, finishing in 9.87 seconds to Boldon's 9.99.

Jones, toes twinkling in metallic silver, blew away her competition with the fastest legal time ever run in a women's Olympic final, 10.75 seconds, and by the largest winning margin in 48 years.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Monday September 25, 2000 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 3 Metro Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Olympic results--A photo caption appearing on A1 in some editions of Sunday's Times incorrectly stated the time it took for U.S. athlete Maurice Greene to complete a 100-meter dash. Greene covered the distance in 9.87 seconds to win a gold medal.

Florence Griffith-Joyner produced faster times at the 1988 Seoul Games, but she ran 10.62 in the semifinals and her gold-medal mark of 10.54 was wind-aided.

Jones beat silver medalist Ekaterini Thanou of Greece (11.12) by four full meters to the finish line and 0.37 seconds. That's the largest margin of victory in an Olympic women's 100-meter final since Australia's Marjorie Jackson eclipsed South Africa's Daphne Hasenjager by 0.38 seconds at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

Bronze medals went to Obadele Thompson, whose time of 10.04 in the men's final gave Barbados its first-ever Olympic medal, and Tanya Lawrence of Jamaica, who ran 11.18 in the women's final.

The American sweep was the first without an asterisk attached since Jim Hines and Wyomia Tyus won gold at the 1968 Mexico City Games. Carl Lewis and Evelyn Ashford triumphed in Los Angeles in 1984, but those Games were boycotted by the Soviet Union and East Germany. Lewis and Griffith-Joyner were awarded gold medals in 1988, Lewis only after Canada's Ben Johnson was disqualified for testing positive for steroids.

Historic victories? Absolutely.

Dramatic? Not a chance.

Greene, 26, and Jones, 24, are both two-time world champions, world leaders at 100 meters since 1997. Greene holds the men's world record--9.79, set in 1999--and Jones owns the fastest women's time since Griffith-Joyner retired--10.65, set in 1998.

They were expected to win, and they did, resoundingly.

"The kind of race Maurice ran tonight," Boldon said, "we got destroyed."

Thanou conceded that she realized she was running for second place as soon as she stepped into the starting blocks.

"I knew I couldn't beat her," Thanou said of Jones. "I said to myself, 'I'm going to be happy with a silver medal.' "

One by one, the foregone conclusions went forward, first Jones, then Greene. They were duly attired for the occasion, Jones in her "reflective silver" spikes--the first track shoe to double as a compact mirror--and Greene in his Old Glories.

For Jones, the shoes served a practical purpose as decoys.

"Earlier, I heard there were rumors going around some of the other competitors," Jones said, grinning. "They said, 'She's wearing silver, I guess that's what she's running for.'

"I guess I cleared that up tonight."

Greene pulled off his red, white and blue spikes midway through his victory lap and flung one of them into the Olympic Stadium crowd.

"I gave [the crowd] the best I could," Greene said. "And then I gave them a little souvenir. My shoe."

The victory laps were far more intriguing than the victory sprints. Jones gave NBC's cameras an all-purpose performance--she laughed, she cried, she hugged her mother and her brother, she went multinational with the traditional flag wave--carrying the U.S. flag in one hand and the flag of Belize in the other.

"My mother is from the country of Belize and all of my family on her side are Belizians," Jones said. "And so although I'm a proud American, I have a huge support system in the country of Belize. I consider myself half-Belizian and I wanted to show my support for that country as well as the country I was born and bred in, the USA."

Greene carried on like a little kid, throwing his victory bouquet into the crowd, taking a mock bite out of the gold medal, mugging for the cameras as they zoomed in on him on the medal stand.

"Actually," Greene said, "I was trying to keep from crying. I was just overwhelmed with excitement. When I get nervous, my tongue comes out and my mouth goes dry. Ato was in back of me saying, 'Don't cry! Not yet! Not yet!' "

From here, Greene and Jones veer off in wildly different directions. Having failed to qualify for the 200-meter competition by straining his hamstring at the Olympic trials, Greene is off for almost a week, returning to the track only for the 400-meter relay heats, beginning next Saturday.

Jones, meanwhile, has only just begun. The 100 was merely Round One in her quest to win five gold medals in Sydney. Next up: the long jump Wednesday and Friday, the 200 meters Thursday and the 400- and 1,600-meter relays Friday and Saturday.

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