Olympic Games: Jones will have shot at five gold medals

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The Independent Online
IN THE hope that the 2000 Olympics will become celebrated as the "Athletes' Games," the event's organisers have settled on a schedule which will allow Marion Jones a shot at history.

The United States sprinter will attempt to win an unprecedented five gold medals in track and field at Sydney, and her bid to become celebrated as the athlete of the games is gaining full support from the Sydney organisers.

Jones will be trying to become the first woman in the sport to win five gold medals in one games. Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands is the only woman track and field competitor to win four golds at one games, in 1948.

"Five golds is not just talk," Jones said earlier this year. "It is possible. If any athlete can do it, it's myself. I was born with a lot of talent, but I'm also a very hard worker." Unlike the Atlanta Olympics, where late negotiations were needed to facilitate Michael Johnson's double at 200 metres and 400m, the Sydney committee has designed a schedule around Jones' needs.

The only catch is that, of the 28 sports to be contested at the next Olympics, track and field's governing body the International Amateur Athletic Federation, is the only one yet to reach a formal schedule agreement with Sydney. However, Bob Elphinston, a Sydney spokesman, said: "We're now printing something like 9.3 million ticket brochures," he said. "It's absolutely crucial that we maintain that programme."

The number of sports for Sydney has increased by two from Atlanta, with triathlon and taekwondo bringing the figure to 28. The introduction this month of four synchronised diving medals takes the number of events on the programme to 300, from 271 in 1996.

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