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ATHENS 2004 | Sport-by-Sport Capsules

Track and Field

August 08, 2004|Helene Elliott

Where: Olympic Stadium, Olympic Sports Complex (except men's and women's shotput at Ancient Olympia Stadium, and men's and women's marathons at Marathon Stadium)

When: Aug. 18-29 (finals designated below).

Top U.S. performers: Maurice Greene will defend his title of "world's fastest man" in the 100-meter dash, always a marquee event. Marion Jones won't duplicate her three-gold, two-bronze performance at Sydney -- she dropped out of the 200 at the U.S. trials and didn't make the top three in the 100 -- but she'll vie for a medal in the long jump. Jeremy Wariner has two of the fastest 400-meter times in the world this season and leads a contingent of collegiate standouts in many events. Also among them are Lauryn Williams of the University of Miami in the women's 100; Allyson Felix in the 200; Sheena Johnson of UCLA in the women's 400 hurdles, Sanya Richards of Texas in the 400, and Muna Lee of Louisiana State in the 200. Stacy Dragila should be in the final mix again in the pole vault. Allen Johnson, who won four world titles in the 110 hurdles but was injured before the Sydney Games and finished fourth, is back in top shape. And Gail Devers will again try for the medal that has eluded her in the 100 hurdles.

U.S. chances: As always, good in the men's and women's 100, 200 and 400, the relays, hurdles and long jump, but remote in the middle and long distances. A sweep in the men's shotput is likely. The pole vaulters should contend for gold, and Olympic trials winner Bryan Clay could be in the decathlon picture with compatriot Tom Pappas. It will be tough to match the 20 medals track and field athletes won at Sydney.

The outlook (in order of date of final):

Aug. 18

Men's shotput: John Godina could easily be part of a sweep with Adam Nelson and Reese Hoffa. Those three -- and fourth-place trials finisher Christian Cantwell -- have dominated the world leader list this year.

Women's shotput: Russian teammates Irina Korzhanenko and Svetlana Krivelyova have been tops in the world this season. Americans Laura Gerraughty and Kristin Heaston, 1-2 at the Olympic trials, are well behind the world leaders.

Aug. 20

Men's 20K race walk: Three Russian Vladimirs -- Stankin, Parvatkin and Andreyev -- own four of the six top times this season and should dominate. Stankin's world-leading time is 1 hour 17 minutes 23 seconds; Tim Seaman, who trains in Chula Vista, won the Olympic trials at 1:25.40.

Men's 10,000: Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia set the world record of 26:21 in June and is the overwhelming favorite. The second-, third- and seventh-best times were recorded by other Ethiopians, making a sweep possible. U.S. trials winner Meb Keflezighi chose not to compete, leaving runner-up Abdi Abdirahman (27:55) as the top U.S. hope.

Aug. 21

Heptathlon: Carolina Kluft of Sweden has the top two totals in the world this season, 6,820 and 6,769. She's an excellent jumper, with some of the world's top marks this year. Svetlana Sokolova of Russia will challenge her.

Women's 100: Trials winner LaTasha Colander, a 400 runner turned sprinter, and NCAA champion Lauryn Williams have each run 10.97, tied for third in the world this year. Only Bulgaria's Ivet Lalova (10.77) and France's Christine Arron (10.95) have run faster, and Torri Edwards (11.00) isn't far behind. Edwards' status was uncertain after she tested positive for a banned drug, which she said she'd taken inadvertently. One U.S. medal is likely; two wouldn't be a surprise.

Women's discus throw: Ekaterini Voggoli and Anastasia Kelesidou of Greece have two of the top four distances this season and will have the home-field advantage. Kelesidou was the silver medalist at Sydney.

Aug. 22

Men's hammer throw: The only U.S. athlete who met the Olympic "A" standard of 78.65 meters (258 feet) was James Parker, who reached only 254-6 at the Olympic trials. Ivan Tikhon of Belarus, fourth at the 2000 Games, has two of the top three results this season including a world-leading 83.79 meters (274-11).

Men's triple jump: Melvin Lister had given up on the event before returning this season to win the U.S. Olympic trials with a leap of 17.78 meters (58-4), tops in the world this year and better than the jump that won gold at Sydney in 2000. Lister, Walter Davis and Kenta Bell give the U.S. hope for at least one medal as they battle with Christian Olsson of Sweden and Jadel Gregorio of Brazil.

Men's high jump: Stefan Holm of Sweden, fourth at Sydney, is the favorite with a world-best 2.36 meters (7-8 3/4 ). Jamie Nieto won the U.S. trials at 2.33 (7-7 3/4 ) and has a chance at a medal.

Men's 100: Greene has regained his Sydney championship form, but Shawn Crawford (world-best 9.88, plus 9.93 twice) and Justin Gatlin (9.92 and 9.96) will push him. So will Asafa Powell of Jamaica, who has run 9.91 twice this season and beat Greene at London on July 30. No one has repeated as 100-meter champion since Carl Lewis in 1984 and 1988, the latter after Ben Johnson was disqualified for a positive drug test.

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