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US Outdoor Championships

25 June 2006
www.wcsn.com

By Elliott Denman

No matter what transpires in Marion Jones' celebrated - and often clouded - track and field career from here on out, they will forever be comparing her to the late Florence Griffith-Joyner.

So it was Friday at the USA Outdoor Championships at Carroll Stadium.

Yes, she won the women's 100-meter final for her first U.S. National crown since 2002, but her time was "only" 11.10 seconds. And it was in the face of a mild headwind.

But it couldn't hold a candle to the famed and ill-fated FloJo's still -and perhaps forever unchallenged - 10.49-second world record performance, on this same Carroll Stadium track, July 16, 1988, at the USA Olympic Trials.

For sure, they are still debating the "legality" of that out-of-the-blue 10.49 clocking - because the wind gauge produced a reading of exactly 0.00 meters per second - or no wind at all - despite an apparent gust at FloJo's back.

At least there was no debating the wind reading yesterday. The breeze in Jones' face was measured at 0.9 meters a second.

It was a taxing day for Jones, the triple gold medalist and double bronze medalist out of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games who has emerged from the cloud of drug suspicion and the never-proved allegations of her involvement in the BALCO scandal, to resume her sport at the top of the sprint heap this spring.

She bowed in appreciation of the crowd of 9,276's applause for her performance and declared it all "a satisfying feeling."

"It feels great. It was a challenging three rounds."

Thanks to the heavy rain and lightning storms which hit the track Thursday, the Friday card was rescheduled to require all three rounds of the 100 in a single day.

Jones was more than up to the challenge, winning her prelim, her semifinal, and then the final, all under perfect control.

Left in Jones' slipstream were the last two gold medalists of the IAAF World Championships - 2005 winner Lauryn Williams, who placed second in 11.17 seconds, and 2003 titlist Torri Edwards, third in an identical 11.17.

Strides further back were Rachelle Boone-Smith (11.21), Muna Lee (11,24) and Mikele "Miki" Barber (11.27).

"Not so bad," said Williams. "You always want to win, but no excuses."

Men's 100 champion Justin Gatlin needed no alibis, either. He, too, ran into a mild headwind, but kept alive his remarkable streak of running each of his 2006 finals under 10 seconds.

Tyson Gay (10.07) was the only other 100 man within shouting distance of Gatlin. Shawn Crawford, Gatlin's training partner and 2004 Olympic 200 champion, was a not-close third in 10.26.

With Nationals out of the way, Gatlin can now clear the decks and prepare for his invasion of the European circuit and his match race with world-record co-holder, Shawn Crawford, booked for July 28 in London.

"A win is a win," said Gatlin. "I wanted to come out here and put on a show for the fans. Running three rounds was a factor and maybe why I wasn't able to produce a great time."

For Gatlin, it was a second straight USA 100 title. For Maurice Greene, the 2004 National king but, out with injuries and a spectator yesterday, it was a display of speed he may never again reach.

In other Nationals highlights:

Bernard Lagat, two-time Olympic 1,500-meter medalist for Kenya (silver in 2004, bronze in 2000), won his first National title as a U.S. citizen by taking the 5,000 meters in 13:14.32, sprinting away from Matt Tegenkamp (13:15.00) down the homestraight. Next for Lagat: a bid for the 1,500 title Sunday.

Brian Johnson stunned Dwight Phillips, the reigning Olympic and World champion, to win the long jump, 26-7 to 26-6 ¼, again in the teeth of headwinds.

World shot put champion Adam Nelson (72-3 ¼) outmuscled domestic rivals Reese Hoffa (72-0 ¾) and Christian Cantwell (71-10).

Shani Marks edged US record holder Tiombe Hurd for the women's triple jump title, 45 feet, 7 inches, to 45-5 ¾.

A.G. Kruger outheaved James Parker, 248-9 to 237-4, to top the men's hammer throw field.

Kim Kreiner added 31 centimeters to the U.S. women's javelin record with a gold medal thrw of 204 feet, 10 inches.

Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist, returned to the track, only to be outkicked by Jorge Torres in the 10,000 meers, 28:14.3 to 28:18.74 with Dan Browne a close third (28:19.32).



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