Jones prepares for assault on 200 metres World
Gene Cherry (Reuters)
20 June 2001 Eugene - Triple Olympic champion Marion Jones takes her first step towards the only major sprint title she does not hold by competing over 200 metres at the U.S. championships here this weekend.
The four-day meeting which starts on Thursday serves as the American trials for the world championships in Edmonton from August 3 to 12 and will also include a one-race appearance from 100-metre world record holder Maurice Greene.
Both Jones and Greene are planning to seek 100 and 200 metres title in Edmonton.
Jones, who won medals in five events at the Sydney Olympics, will compete in only the 200 metres in Eugene, but that will satisify new U.S. rules requiring world champions to take part in the national meet in order to defend their titles in Jones's case the 100 metres.
A protesting Greene will do even less to earn his place in the 100 and 200 metres, which he won at the 1999 World Championships in Seville.
"I'm going to give them one good race and watch the rest of the competition and go back to training," said the Olympic 100 metres champion, who called the new rule unfair.
"They are trying to make us do something that we have already been privileged to do," Greene said. "They told us in Seville, we win, we automatically get to go (to the next World Championships)."
Jones has twice won world 100 metre titles, in 1997 and 1999. But she missed out on only her chance for a world 200 metres title in 1999, crashing out in the semi-finals with back spasms after winning gold in the 100 metres and bronze in the long jump.
She returned in Sydney to claim gold at 100 and 200 metres and in the 4x400 metres relay with bronze in the long jump and 4x100 metres relay to become the first woman athlete to win five medals at the same Olympics.
Edmonton is likely to produce another multi-medal show.
"I'll run the 100 and 200," said Jones. "And I love that 4x4 so it is just going to kind of depend on how I'm feeling and what Trevor (coach Trevor Graham) wants me to do at the worlds in terms of both relays or one relay."
There will be no long jump, though.
"2000 was such a long season," Jones said. "that we just felt that we wanted to cut back on something. So we decided we were going to drop the long jump this year."
The top three finishers in each event advance to Edmonton provided they have met qualifying standards.
World long jump record holder Mike Powell is staging a comeback at the age of 37, and womens world record holder Stacy Dragila or men's Olympic silver medallist Lawrence Johnson could reach record-breaking heights in the pole vault.
Powell will test his men's long jump skills against America's best young leapers in his first major competition since the 1996 Olympics. He set the world record of 8.95 metres at the 1991 world championships.
Both Dragila and Johnson say they are ready for pole vault world records. Dragila, the defending world and Olympic champion, twice broke her women's record on June 9. Johnson, too, has been impressive outdoors.
Justin Gatlin, the 19-year-old speedster who won U.S. collegiate titles at both 100 and 200 metres earlier this month, will also be looking for added recognition.
There will be financial incentives, too. Prize money totalling $375,000 will go to the top four finishers with winners receiving $3,500, runners-up $2,500, third-place finishers $1,500 and fourth-place finishers $500.