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General News She lost her first 100

Despite setbacks, Jones hasn’t lost enthusiasm

Despite setbacks, Jones hasn’t lost enthusiasm
Bert Rosenthal (AP)
28 August 2001 – Brisbane - She lost her first 100-metre final since 1997 and has separated from her husband, making this one of the most difficult years of Marion Jones’ life.  Yet Jones hasn’t lost her enthusiasm for athletics, or her zest for life.

Jones was at her most enthusiastic best Tuesday during a press conference for the Goodwill Games, where she will run her final race of the season over 100 metres.  Smiling and cheery as usual, no matter how difficult the circumstances, Jones reiterated how she enjoys competing, and plans to keep running through the 2008 Beijing Olympics, then quit at 32.

After that, she might even consider a career in women’s basketball. She played basketball in college, helping North Carolina win the 1994 American collegiate championship.  “It would be wonderful if I could play in a pro league ... whether this body could take it, I don’t know,” she said, laughing. “Maybe I could play two or three years.” Before that, Jones has some goals she would like to accomplish on the track.

Among them are breaking the world records in the 100 and 200, both held by Florence Griffith Joyner.  “I want to improve on my 10.65 and 21.62 and get closer to 10.49 and 21.34,” said Jones, whose best times make her the second-fastest performer in history behind the late FloJo.

She also would like to finish the season with an impressive win.

“People remember you by your last race, so I would like to leave here with a victory,” Jones said.  Unfortunately for Jones, she probably will be remembered this season more for her one loss at the World Championships than for all her other triumphs, including being the only double gold medalist in Edmonton, winning the 200 and anchoring the winning 4x100 relay.  That’s because the defeat was so rare, her first in a 100 metre final in four years, ending a streak of 42 consecutive victories.

Since the championships earlier this month, she has twice beaten her conqueror, Zhanna Pintusevich-Block of Ukraine.  The two will meet again at the Goodwill Games, but Jones doesn’t look at the matchup as a rivalry. Nor does she view beating Pintusevich-Block as revenge or redemption.  “I’ve shied away from all that,” Jones said of her victories over Pintusevich-Block at Zurich and Brussels.  “I wanted to ... win the race. It didn’t matter who was on the track. I won, and I was excited.” Jones admitted she was having difficulty dealing with the loss.

“I’ve lived it, I’ve replayed it in my mind over 100 times,” she said. “I’ve lost a lot of sleep. I would like to go back to it, but I can’t.

“Not winning at the World Championships was disappointing. I will use that as motivation for next season and the season after.”