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Americans Dominate 200 Heats

September 27, 2000|From Associated Press

Michael Johnson and Maurice Greene aren't running in the 200 meters, but all three Americans won their heats in the first round of the event today.

Floyd Heard, John Capel and Coby Miller--running with a U.S. flag painted on his forehead--easily qualified for the second round.

Ato Boldon, silver medalist in the 100 last weekend, won his heat in 20.52 seconds. He is the pre-race favorite, after Johnson and Greene were injured in the 200 final at the U.S. trials and failed to qualify.

Capel and Miller were timed in 20.49. Heard ran a 20.68.

"It's only the first round," said Heard, 34. "It's great to be at the Olympics and it's great to get it started."

Capel said he ran too fast.

"I never came out of the turn that fast before. It scared me and I was running too fast," he said, "so I had to shut it down, but not that much."

Capel said the pressure of the Olympics is no worse than what he's already faced.

"Once you run in the trials, it's the same as running in the Olympics," he said. "There's no more pressure than running against Michael Johnson every round."

Marion Jones resumed the quest for five gold medals at the Sydney Games by winning her qualifying heat of the women's 200 in 22.75 seconds.

Also advancing to the second round were U.S. teammates Torri Edwards and Nanceen Perry. Edwards was a late replacement for reigning world champion Inger Miller, who withdrew because of a severely strained left hamstring.

Joining them in the second round was 400-meter champion Cathy Freeman, who qualified by placing third in her heat. The crowd roared for Freeman.

"I really needed it," Freeman said of the race. "I will feel better as the rounds progress. If there was one I could afford to relax in, it was that one."

Marla Runyan, the first U.S. paralympian to reach the Olympics, passed her first test at the Sydney Games by advancing out of the qualifying rounds of the women's 1,500.

Runyan, who is legally blind, was joined in the semifinals by compatriot Suzy Favor Hamilton. But Shayne Culpepper, a late replacement for the ailing Regina Jacobs, was eliminated.

Also ousted was defending champion Svetlana Masterkova of Russia, who stopped running after about 50 meters. Masterkova, the reigning world champion, also won the 800 meters at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Runyan, who has an incurable retina condition called Stargardt's Disease that has reduced the middle of her eyesight, qualified by placing seventh in her heat in 4 minutes, 10.83 seconds.

Favor Hamilton, who also had to overcome major obstacles to reach Sydney, won her heat in 4:08.08. She had Achilles' tendon surgery last year and also had to deal with the suicide of her brother. To remember him, she has resumed using her maiden name--Favor--in competition.

Runyan and Favor Hamilton still face a daunting task in the 1,500. No American woman has won an Olympic medal at that distance.

American Chris Huffins led after three events of the decathlon. He had 2,773 points for a 44-point lead over Erki Nool of Estonia. World champion and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic was fourth.

Americans Connie Price-Smith, Jesseca Cross and Teri Tunks all failed to advance out of the qualifying rounds in the shotput.

Cross also failed to advance out of the qualifying rounds in the hammer throw, but U.S. teammates Dawn Ellerbe and Amy Palmer both reached the final.

In the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, none of the three Americans--Mark Croghan, Anthony Cosey and Pascal Dobert--advanced to Friday's final.

Libbie Hickman reached the final of the women's 10,000 meters, but U.S. teammates Jenn Rhines and Deena Drossin failed to advance out of the qualifying heats.

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