Athletics: Jones quickly into her stride

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The Independent Online
MARION JONES took the first of seven steps which she hopes will lead to a $1m jackpot last night as she won the 200 metres at the Oslo Grand Prix, the first of this season's IAAF Golden League meetings.

The 23-year-old world 100 metres champion, who is seeking to win four gold medals at this summer's World Championships, must win at 200m in all of the Golden League events - of which six remain - as well as the IAAF Grand Prix final to lay her hands on the cash. Last year she achieved that target, although she had to share the money with Ethiopia's Haile Gebreslassie and Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj, who were also unbeaten. This year, however, the events counting towards a jackpot have been rotated and the two middle-distance runners are without a suitable discipline.

Jones, whose 21.81sec achieved in the heat of Eugene at the end of May remains the fastest time in the world this year, recorded a winning time of 22.13 sec in Oslo's cooler conditions. "It was rather chilly. But the race for the jackpot started well," she said.

The conditions worked against Gebreslassie's intention of breaking his own world 5,000m record of 12min 39.36sec. He had to settle instead for the first sub-13min run at the stadium, bettering Said Aoutia's 1985 track record in clocking 12:53.92.

Three women recorded 1999 world bests - Deon Hemmings, Jamaica's Olympic 400m hurdles champion who recorded 53.48sec; Tanja Damaske, of Germany, who threw 63.12m in the javelin; and Romania's Gabriela Szabo, who took 11 seconds off her own fastest 3,000m mark this season with 8min 27.21sec.

In the 110m hurdles, America's world and Olympic champion, Allen Johnson, won in 13.14sec, just 0.03sec off the 1999 world best set last weekend by Britain's world record holder, Colin Jackson. Britain's Tony Jarrett was in fifth place in 13.60 sec.

Johnson's American namesake, Michael, has confirmed that he will open his European season in tomorrow's Lausanne Grand Prix after recovering from the muscle problem which caused him to withdraw from the US Championships and trials last weekend.

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