Friday, August 27, 2004

Sweep of the 200 meters caps an all-American day

By Rob Gloster
The Associated Press

ATHENS - Shawn Crawford stood silently amid the Greek chorus of whistles and boos delaying his race. For four minutes, he fought to stay composed while rowdy fans chanted the name of their country and their disgraced sprinting star.

It made little difference to Crawford and his teammates, who finished 1-2-3 in the 200 meters Thursday in a big night for U.S. athletes before a restive crowd that came to see defending champion Kostas Kenteris and got an American sweep instead.

Crawford took the lead off the turn and finished in 19.79 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and a personal best. Bernard Williams tied his personal best of 20.01 seconds for silver. Justin Gatlin, the 100 champion, won bronze in 20.03.

"We're here at the birthplace of the Olympics, the defending Olympic champion is from Greece, and there were certain situations that didn't allow him to compete," Crawford said. "I can understand their feelings, I know they're disappointed, I know they're upset."

The crowd still cheered at the finish. It was the sixth time the United States has taken all three 200 medals - the last sweep was led by Carl Lewis in 1984.

And it gave the United States a total of 18 track and field medals, just two behind the total from Sydney, with the relays and several other events still to come. Russia is next with nine medals.

Dwight Phillips added to the U.S. haul, leading a 1-2 American finish in the long jump with NCAA champion John Moffitt taking silver. In the first round of the 400-meter relay, Marion Jones ran the second leg as the U.S. team's 41.67, which matched its own best time in the world this year.

Crawford and Williams were doing a victory lap, draped together in an American flag, when Phillips climbed the victory stand to accept his gold medal. The sprinters stopped on the track as "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played. Williams put his right hand over his heart.

Crawford was asked whether he felt cheated because his victory lap was cut short.

"I didn't worry about that," he said. "I got a full gold medal."

Olympic Stadium was packed, largely because Greeks thought they would be watching Kenteris, who withdrew from the Athens Games after missing a drug test.

The start of the 200 was delayed four minutes while spectators whistled in derision and chanted "Kenteris" and "Hellas, Hellas" - the Greek word for Greece. They booed loudest when the Americans were introduced.

Crawford, a flamboyant personality who had showboated mercilessly in earlier heats, was unusually subdued after the finish.

Phillips won the long jump with a leap of 28 feet, 2 1/4 inches on his first attempt. Moffitt won silver at 27-9 1/2. Joan Lino Martinez of Spain took the bronze medal.

Felix Sanchez won the Dominican Republic's first Olympic gold medal, capturing the 400-meter hurdles in more of a coronation than a triumph. Sanchez has not lost in more than three years, winning two world championships and dominating his event more than any other track and field athlete.

Sanchez, born in New York and raised in San Diego, won in 47.63. Danny McFarlane of Jamaica took silver in 48.11 and Naman Keita was third in 48.26.

In the 400-meter relay, Jones took the baton and sped down the straightaway. By the time she handed it off to 100-meter silver medalist Lauryn Williams, the United States was well on its way to winning the heat.

The race might have implications long after the Olympics. Jones is under investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and if she is found guilty of using banned drugs it could affect any medal the team might win.

Jones has not been charged with doping and repeatedly has denied she ever used performance-enhancing substances.

But her ex-husband, former shot putter C.J. Hunter, reportedly has told federal agents that Jones used banned drugs before, during and after the Sydney Games.

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