Jones leaves it late to maintain Olympic dream

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Marion Jones, who dreams of winning five Olympic Games gold medals in Sydney, kept her hopes alive with a leap of 23ft 1/2in in her final effort of the long jump at the US trials on Sunday.

Marion Jones, who dreams of winning five Olympic Games gold medals in Sydney, kept her hopes alive with a leap of 23ft 1/2in in her final effort of the long jump at the US trials on Sunday.

The action-packed day also saw Michael Johnson run the fastest 400 metres of the year in 43.68sec, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee fail in her bid to compete in five Games.

Jones was one jump from elimination after two fouls in the long jump final before she put in the fourth-best leap in the world this year. "I was quite concerned," she said, butencouraging words fromJoyner-Kersee and inspiring looks from her husband, the shot putter C J Hunter, and her coach, Trevor Graham, motivated her.

"After the second jump, I turned around and saw that red flag [indicating a foul] and said, 'OK, I've got one more and if I don't get into it, this dream will be over. Then I looked over into the stands and saw Trevor and C J and they were pumped up because they knew if I got a legal jump I was going to go far. As soon as I saw they believed in me I had no problem."

Joyner-Kersee, who came out of two years' retirement for the trials, was not as fortunate. The world heptathlon record holder could finish only sixth in the long jump with a best leap of 21ft 10 3/4in and ended her career for a second time with a run-through. "I felt something in my leg," she said. "It just kind of grabbed. I hate going out like that, but I'd rather walk away walking."

Johnson said he could have pushed harder in the 400m but there was no need. "You [the media] talk about records," said Johnson, who set the world best of 43.18sec at last year's World Championships. "But I came here to win. Records don't happen every day, and to set a record you have to take risks and this isn't the place for it."

Things will be different at the Olympics, though, the defending champion promised. "In Sydney, I want to run the race of my life," he said.

Meanwhile, Johnson is now preparing for what Maurice Greene hopes will be the race of his life - a 200m showdown with Johnson that will conclude the American trials on 23 July. For days, Greene has talked about defeating Johnson in the race. Even if Greene does not win, Johnson said that he does not expect the bantering to stop. "He'll just say he's going to beat me at the Olympic Games," Johnson added.

Comments