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Johnson Falls Out of Contention

August 26, 2004|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — He clipped the third and fourth hurdles and smashed the fifth one, flailing at every step of his second-round heat in the 110-meter hurdles.

So it was only a matter of time until the hurdles overcame Allen Johnson, instead of Johnson surmounting them. And after bashing into the ninth hurdle Wednesday, he fell ingloriously to the track beneath the last hurdle, face-down but able to see his chance at a second gold medal passing him by.

"I was a little nervous, but I felt I could get myself back together," said Johnson, 33, the 2003 world champion and 1996 Olympic champion. "The last one, there was nothing I could do. I'm fairly disappointed, but it happens. I'll be watching the final."

Johnson, one of the favorites at Sydney in 2004, injured his hamstring shortly before the Games and finished fourth.

U.S. teammates Terrence Trammell (13.34) and Duane Ross (13.50) advanced to today's semifinal.

Johnson's elimination adds to the list of U.S. athletes derailed by injury or misfortune. Gail Devers, running despite a calf injury, was eliminated in the 100 semifinals and the first round of the 100 hurdles, Sydney pole vault gold medalist Stacy Dragila was hampered by foot problems and was eliminated in qualifying, and Tom Pappas withdrew from the decathlon after injuring his left foot.

"There's nothing more I can do," Johnson said, "but sit and cheer for everyone else."

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