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ATHENS 2004

Felix Is Smooth Starter

L.A. sprinter cruises to victory in the early rounds of the 200 to lead a U.S. youth movement featuring three first-time Olympians.

August 24, 2004|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — Allyson Felix of Santa Clarita took her turn at leading the U.S. track team's youth movement, winning two rounds of the women's 200 here Monday and advancing to today's semifinals.

Felix, 18, eased up toward the end of her quarterfinal heat but won in 22.69 seconds. She had won her first-round heat in 22.39. Muna Lee, 22, and LaShaunta'e Moore, 21, also advanced, showing little awe of their surroundings, despite being first-time Olympians.

They apparently were following the lead of 20-year-old Lauryn Williams, who won a silver medal in the women's 100; Justin Gatlin, 22, who won gold in the men's 100, and Jeremy Wariner, 20, gold medalist in the men's 400.

"Just watching Lauryn was great," said Felix, who turned pro last year shortly after graduating from Los Angeles Baptist High. "We're kind of hoping to bring a new wave and bring positive things to track and field. Right now, we're just so eager. Everybody has passion and we're taking it all in."

Lee, of LSU, won her first heat in 22.57 and her second in 22.74.

"I think the first race I ran was more getting the feeling of the track and knowing what I have to do and trying to put it together," she said.

Bryan Clay of Azusa barely kept it together in the fifth event of the decathlon.

Told by his coach he'd be running in the third heat of the 400, he was unprepared when his name was called to run in the second heat. His time of 49.19 was well off the 47.90 he ran in winning the Olympic trials, leaving him third, with 4,554 points.

Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan leads with 4,689 points, with world-record holder Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic second at 4,594. Tom Pappas of Knoxville, Tenn., is fifth at 4,415.

"My legs locked up at 200," Clay said, "but the long jump went real well (26 feet 1 1/2 inches) and the 100 was solid for me (10.44 seconds).... It's going to be a battle. I told everybody you wouldn't be able to tell who's going to win after the first day. Whoever comes out strong will win."

In other key events:

* Defending men's 400-meter hurdles champion Angelo Taylor won his first-round heat in 48.79 seconds, advancing to today's semifinals. Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic, who competed at USC, also advanced, with a 48.51 in winning his heat.

* Kelly Holmes of Britain won the women's 800 in 1:56.38, edging Hasna Benhassi of Morocco at the tape. Benhassi and Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia were each timed in 1:56.43, but Benhassi out-leaned Ceplak. Defending gold medalist Maria de Mutola was fourth in 1:56.51.

Five-time U.S. Olympian Jearl Miles-Clark had a 400-meter split of 56.37 but faded and finished sixth in 1:57.27.

"I'm happy," said Miles-Clark, who has two relay gold medals and a silver from 1992, 1996 and 2000. "This may be my last one and I wanted to go out with a bang. I didn't get a medal, but I'm not going to cry. I left it all on the track."

* Meseret Defar of Ethiopia outdistanced her pursuers with a kick in the final 200 meters to win the women's 5,000 in 14:45.65. Isabella Ochichi of Kenya was second, and Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia third.

* Francoise Mbango won Cameroon's first medal of the Athens Games with a triple jump of 15.30 meters (50 feet 2 1/2 inches). Hrysopiyi Devetzi of Greece won silver and Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia won bronze.

* Robert Fazekas of Hungary set an Olympic record in the men's discus at 70.93 meters (232-8) to end a repeat bid by Sydney gold medalist Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania. Alekna was second at 69.89 meters (229-3), and Zoltan Kovago of Hungary was third at 67.04 (219-11). Casey Malone of Fort Collins, Colo., the lone U.S. finalist, finished seventh at 64.33 (211-0).

* Athanasia Tsoumeleka of Greece won the women's 20-kilometer race walk in an upset, with a time of 1 hour 29 minutes 12 seconds. Olimpiada Ivanova of Russia was second and Jane Saville of Australia was third. Teresa Vaill of Gainesville, Fla., finished 43rd in 1:38:47.

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