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Oh, Baby, Jones Can't Wait to Get Back on Track

June 19, 2003|Alan Abrahamson | Times Staff Writer

CARY, N.C. — On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the Olympic gold medalist, now heavily pregnant, hits the treadmill. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she runs in the pool -- nice and cool now that summer is nearly here in hot and muggy North Carolina.

As if that wasn't enough, Marion Jones also is in the weight room four times a week. Nothing serious. The baby is due July 23. Just enough to keep her toned, motivated and ready for the serious work that lies ahead once the baby is born and attention turns to the 2004 Olympics, and the question that awaits: Can she make it back?

"It's hard even to put into words how motivated I am," Jones said.

Her partner, Tim Montgomery, said, "She's so eager," adding that she misses track and field so much she wants to know everything about his meets -- even to the point of what organizers offer for lunch.

"I must say she's back to where she was in '97 when she wanted to prove [herself] to everyone," Montgomery said. When she resumes training, he predicted, "She's going to go farther than she ever went before."

Jones won five medals at the 2000 Games in Sydney, three gold. But her sprint times in 2001 and 2002 did not keep improving. She admits now that "the last few years my zest for the sport and competing was not as strong."

It got to be the "same ol', same ol'," she said. After arriving in the locale of the week, "I had 30 press conferences" and "everyone was gunning for me," and though she usually won her events, she realized that "after a while you need a break."

The pregnancy has been that break, allowing her to watch the emergence of Allyson Felix of Los Angeles, who this spring broke Jones' high school record in the 200 meters, in 22.51, and who ran a world-leading 22.11 in Mexico City, setting a world junior record.

"At 17, to be able to do that reminds me a little bit of me," Jones said. "She's confident. She doesn't seem to be caught up in the hype. My only hope for Allyson is that she enjoys the moment, she enjoys being 17, she decides to go to college. It only comes around once. The sport will be around."

Asked if she sees Felix as a threat, Jones said, "I see myself as a threat. I see myself as the person who can beat me."

She also said, "I want to be healthy, want the baby to be healthy, want to get back into the swing of things."

"It really helps that I love to train," she said. "The pain of training ... I miss that. I'm a training person. The burning feeling, that nauseous feeling -- I miss that."

She added: "I really can not wait for the doctor to say, 'Marion, OK, do your thing.' "

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