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Track and Field

ATHENS 2004 | Sport-by-Sport Capsules

August 08, 2004|Helene Elliott

Men's 200: Jamaican sensation Usain Bolt reportedly had a hamstring injury that might keep him out of the Games. That's good news for the U.S. trio of Crawford, Gatlin and Bernard Williams. Sydney gold medalist Konstantinos Kenteris of Greece will be the crowd favorite.

Men's long jump: Dwight Phillips of the U.S., the 2003 world champion, has the five best leaps this season, topped by a world-leading 8.60 meters (28-2 3/4 ). No one else has more than one leap in the top 18 this year.

Aug. 27

Men's 110-meter hurdles: Allen Johnson, the 1996 gold medalist who was injured at Sydney and finished fourth, barely grabbed third at the U.S. trials. However, he won at Paris the following weekend in 13.07 seconds and again at Stockholm a week later, in 13.13. Xiang Liu of China, the 2003 world bronze medalist, has run 13.06 and 13.11 this season and will challenge Johnson and U.S. trials champion Terrence Trammell, whose winning time of 13.09 was the fifth-best in the world this season.

Men's pole vault: Tough to predict, because much depends on weather and luck. Helmet-wearing Toby Stevenson cleared six meters (19-8 1/4 ) early this season but has been inconsistent; Timothy Mack won the U.S. trials at 5.90 (19-4 1/4 ) and is expected to contend for a medal. Also worth watching are two transplanted Russians, Aleksander Averbukh, who competes for Israel, and Dmitry Markov, who represents Australia.

Women's javelin: World-record holder Osleidys Menendez of Cuba, the Sydney bronze medalist, is the class of the field. Only Nikola Brejchova of the Czech Republic has come anywhere near her this season. Sonia Bisset of Cuba is the best of the rest.

Women's long jump: This could be Marion Jones' only individual event, and she might not win. Lebedeva, the favorite in the triple jump, could prevail here too. Another Russian, Irina Simagina, has two wind-legal jumps beyond seven meters -- 7.07 (23-2 1/2 ) and 7.01 (23-0) -- to Jones' lone 7.11 (23-4) at the Olympic trials.

Women's 10,000: World leader Radcliffe skipped this to run the marathon, leaving no clear favorite. Lydiya Grigoryeva of Russia has the next-best time (31:01.15); Derbe Alemu and Berhane Adere of Ethiopia and Kayoko Fukushi of Japan are contenders.

Men's 50K race walk: Denis Nizhegorodov of Russia set the world record of 3:35.29 in June. Caohong Yu of China is the only athlete to have two top-10 times in this strange and grueling event, making him a medal contender. Russian and Chinese athletes have the top 15 times in the world this season.

Women's 400-meter relay: Three of the four U.S. women who combined for a world-leading 42.33 in April didn't make the team, and the fourth -- Edwards -- faces a possible drug ban. Jones might be excluded while she's still being investigated for possible drug use. France should be strong, led by Muriel Hurtis and Christine Arron; Jamaica, with Sydney 400-meter relay silver medalist Veronica Campbell, could also win.

Aug. 28

Men's 5,000: Bekele, the 22-year-old Ethiopian, set the world record of 12:37.35 on May 31, a warmup to his record-breaking run in the 10,000 eight days later. His 5,000 record is more than nine seconds faster than the second-best time this year, 12:46.53 by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. This is a contest for silver and bronze.

Men's 800: Kenyan-born world-record holder Wilson Kipketer, representing his adopted homeland of Denmark, was favored at Sydney but finished second in a close, slow race. He could prevail this time, based on his 1:43.88 in Rome in early July. Kenyan Wilfred Bungei (world-leading 1:43.72) will challenge him.

Men's javelin: Three-time Olympic champion Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic finished fourth at last year's world championships and has had a quiet season. Alexander Ivanov of Russia, Breaux Greer of the U.S. and Peter Esenwein and Boris Henry of Germany could end Zelezny's reign.

Men's 400-meter relay: With Greene, Gatlin and Crawford available, as well as John Capel, Darvis Patton and Coby Miller, the U.S. should win easily. Japan assembled a quartet that ran 38.35 at an Osaka Grand Prix meet, and Germany put together a foursome that ran 38.30. No one else is likely to be close.

Men's 1,600-meter relay: Wariner, Otis Harris, Darold Williamson and Derrick Brew give the U.S. depth. If they don't drop the baton, the gold is theirs.

Women's high jump: Yelena Slesarenko of Russia has three of the top four jumps this season, including a world-leading 2.04 (6-8 1/4 ), but Hestrie Cloete of South Africa, the Sydney silver medalist, is close at 2.03 (6-8). Venelina Veneva of Bulgaria and Viktoria Styopina of Ukraine should nip at their heels.

Women's 1,500: Abeylegesse, the 5,000-meter record holder, has a season best of 3:58.28 in the 1,500 and might double. If she doesn't, the medals figure to go to a trio of Russians -- Olga Yegorova, Yelena Zadorozhnaya and Tatyana Tomashova.

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