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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Greece's Kenteris Shows He Can Run a Mean 200

Track: His remarks after his country's first male gold in track since 1912 denigrate blacks.

September 29, 2000|MIKE PENNER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Boldon appeared to have the look of astonishment on his face when he crossed the finish line and saw the so-so winning time of the scoreboard. "No," Boldon corrected, "exhaustion was more like it."

Jones coasted to victory, beating runner-up Davis-Thompson (22.27) by 0.43 of a second--the largest margin of victory in an Olympic women's 200 final since Wilma Rudolph's triumph in Rome in 1960.

It was Jones' second gold medal in as many events--a substantial achievement on its own. But in the scope of Jones' bid for five gold medals in Sydney, it represents a mission only 40% accomplished.

"As you all know, I'm here for greater things than just two golds," Jones said. "I'm here to show you I can walk away from Sydney with five golds."

No. 3 is up for grabs today with the women's long jump final. After that, Jones will run legs Saturday in the women's 400- and 1,600-meter relays.

It is there, Davis-Thompson predicts, where Jones' drive for five will sputter.

"Let's put it this way," Davis-Thompson said, appointing herself spokeswoman for the Bahamas' 400-meter relay team. "We were the 1996 Olympic silver medalists and we were the 1999 world champions and we are still the underdogs here. It's just going to make our victory just a little sweeter."

Jones nodded, smiled and replied, "Nobody said it was going to be easy."

Davis-Thompson, 34, has run for the Bahamas in five Summer Olympics dating to 1984. Delighted that she finally made her debut on the medal podium, Davis-Thompson giggled as she recounted her long road to success and how she overcame the odds and her own, well, unique physical endowments.

When Davis-Thompson was a 14-year-old running in Nassau, she said she was "big-busted and I had a big butt. My coach said, 'You're never going to make it.'

"So we drove all over Nassau and she found me the worst sports bra. It was red. You had to strap it on. It felt like I was suffocating in that thing. . . . Of course, it worked." Jayasinghe became the first Sri Lankan to win an Olympic track and field medal since 1948, representing a national federation she has feuded with since a 1998 out-of-competition urine sample tested positive for steroids.

Jayasinghe has maintained her innocence all along, fighting a long legal battle that resulted in the charges being dismissed.

The battle began, Jayasinghe said, after "the man who is the sports minister [of Sri Lanka] wanted to have sex with me. I say, 'No, I'm married.' "

Jayasinghe believes that incident led to Sri Lanka federation officials framing her after taking an out-of-competition sample in April 1998 and refusing to seal the bottle while she was present.

"The test came back positive," said Jayasinghe, who contends the sample was tampered with. "This makes no sense. I am a clean girl. I never fail any drug test before."

In 1999, Jayasinghe moved to Los Angeles, where she trains with coach Tony Campbell. She then vowed never to return to her homeland, but to compete in the Olympics, she first had to participate in Sri Lanka's Olympic trials.

A reporter asked Jayasinghe why she hadn't changed her citizenship and run instead for the United States.

"You can fix this?" Jayasinghe replied quizzically. "I don't have a sponsor. I don't have any money. I'm from a small country."

Today, Jayasinghe said, the Sri Lanka federation "is crying. They gave me trouble, trouble, trouble. On October 2, when I go back [to America] with the bronze medal, they are going to be sad."

In Thursday's other finals:

DECATHLON: First, 1996 Olympic champion Dan O'Brien of the United States was forced to pull out of the U.S. Olympic trials because of a foot injury. Then 1999 world champion Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic arrived in Sydney with an ailing knee.

Suddenly, the Olympic decathlon competition was thrust wide open, enabling Erki Nool of Estonia to win his country's first gold medal with 8,641 points, edging out Dvorak's Czech teammate Roman Sebrle (8,606 points) and the United States' Chris Huffins (8,595).

Nool averted disaster when his appeal over a foul in the discus competition was upheld. Nool had fouled twice previously and a third foul would have left him with no mark and no points. But officials overturned the third foul on appeal and Nool earned 739 points from the event.

Huffins held the lead after nine events, but he is a notoriously weak 1,500-meter runner. Even with a personal-best 4:38.71, Huffins placed 17th in the 1,500, dropping him to third place in the final overall standings.

"When I crossed the finish line, being the pessimist I am, I thought I'd come in fourth," Huffins said. "I'm ecstatic. I came here to win a medal and it didn't really matter what color it was."

Dvorak finished sixth with 8,385 points.

WOMEN'S SHOTPUT: Yanina Korolchik of Belarus won the gold medal with an effort of 67 feet 5 1/2 inches. Larisa Peleshenko of Russia was second at 65-4 1/4, with 1996 Olympic champion Astrid Kumbernuss of Germany taking third at 64-4 1/4.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Medal Winners

Men's 200 Meters

Gold: Konstantinos Kenteris

Silver: Darren Campbell, Britain

Bronze: Ato Boldon, Trinidad and Tobago

*

Men's Decathlon

Gold: Erki Nool, Estonia

Silver: Roman Sebrie, Czech Republic

Bronze: Chris Huffins, United States

*

Men's Long Jump

Gold: Ivan Pedroso, Cuba

Silver: Jai Taurima, Australia

Bronze: Roman Schurenko, Ukraine

*

Men's 50-Kilometer Walk

Gold: Robert Korzeniowski, Poland

Silver: Algars Fadejevs, Latvia

Bronze: Joel Sanchez, Mexico

*

Women's 200 Meters

Gold: Marion Jones, United States

Silver: Pauline Davis-Thompson, Bahamas

Bronze: Susanthika Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka

*

Women's Shotput

Gold: Yanina Karolchik, Belarus

Silver: Larisa Peleshenko, Russia

Bronze: Astrid Kumbernuss, Germany

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