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Ottey going for Olympic number-eight

19 July 2008

Reporting by Mark Allen, with additional reports by Gary Smith

Jamaican-born sprinter Merlene Ottey will make only last attempt to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

The 48-year-old Ottey, will race twice in four days at meetings in the Slovenian city of Maribor today and Tuesday in an attempt to become the first athlete to take part in eight Olympic Games.

"Of course she wants to run at these (Beijing) Games because she would be the first ever to participate at eight consecutive Olympics," Ottey's Slovenia coach Srdjan Djordjevic was quoted as saying to Reuters News.

"If there are ideal weather conditions, she could qualify."

Ottey, an adopted Slovenian sprinter after changing her status in 2002, has won a record eight Olympic Games medals since her first Games in 1980.

However, at 48, and with less than a month to go before the biggest athletic festival in the year, the world renowned sprinter is struggling to achieve the Olympic Games 100m B standard qualify time of 11.42-second. Her season's best is 11.92.

Twenty-eight years after making her Olympic debut as a talented 20-year-old in Moscow, the sprint legend is finally realising she does not have the legs anymore to match strides with the younger generation.

Like a true champion, Ottey, who clearly is not in the sport these days to wrestle for to the gold medal in Beijing, said she still thinks anything is possible, but admits the asking might very well be too steep to climb.

"I have Mount Everest to climb in achieving the qualifying standard," she acknowledged, "but then all things are possible."

Following behind American superwoman Florence Joyner, who owns the world record for both the 100m and 200m, Ottey stands fourth on the overall list of world female sprinters of all-time in the 100m and third fastest on the list over 200m.

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