Greene dashes to Sydney

World-record holder wins 100

Williams 7th

U.s. Olympic Trials

July 16, 2000|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- When Bernard Williams had to decide where he would spend the last two years of his collegiate eligibility, it came down to Florida or UCLA.

Williams chose Florida, but the Baltimorean and every other American male sprinter who doesn't train in Los Angeles got a reminder of the talent that is drawn to Southern California and the teaching that is going on there yesterday, when Maurice Greene lead an HSI sweep of the 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials.

Greene, the world-record holder, grew up in Kansas City, Kan. The runner-up was Curtis Johnson, who went to high school in Florida. Third place went to Jon Drummond, a 31-year-old veteran who was a prodigy in Philadelphia.

Greene, Johnson and Drummond have all moved to Los Angeles to run for HSI, the corporation/club that is headed by agent Emanuel Hudson and John Smith, the coach who's also on the staff at UCLA. One of the world's great quarter-milers in the early 1970s, Smith has shown that he can develop pure speed, too.

"I made the Olympic team, I made the Olympic team," Greene said in a sing-song, childlike chant that hinted at the braggadocio that comes with his affiliation.

"HSI baby, 1-2-3," said Drummond, who pointed out that injuries had slowed him and Johnson for much of this year. "You saw our practices today."

Greene, who holds the world record at 9.79 seconds, ran 10.01 into a headwind. A junior-college dropout who never got out of the quarterfinals in the 1996 trials, Greene had a slight stumble out of the blocks but was in command on another blazingly hot day at Cal State Sacramento's Hornet Stadium.

"I want to know why I can't have a final without a stumble," Greene said. "I kept my composure, had good acceleration and a very strong finish. ... I feel great. I came here to win the 100 and 200, and the first half of that is over."

The trials will conclude with his collision with world record-holder Michael Johnson in the 200 a week from today, Greene's 26th birthday.

In the 100, Curtis Johnson was caught in 10.066 to Drummond's 10.07. Williams, just three years out of Carver High and coming off an NCAA title for Florida, was the youngest man in the final. He was in decent position at the 50-meter mark but faded to seventh, in 10.19.

Sometime next week, the U.S. coaching staff will select the six men who will be eligible to run in the 400-meter relay in the Olympics in Sydney, Australia. It will obviously have a strong HSI flavor, and Williams can hope that he's being considered.

Marion Jones reaffirmed her status as the world's leading female athlete, winning her 100 final in a comfortable 10.88 seconds. Inger Miller, yet another HSI disciple, was second in 11.05, and Chryste Gaines gained the third and final spot in 11.13.

Jones' joy was slightly tempered by the results of the men's shot put, in which her husband, C.J. Hunter, was upset. He will still join her on the Olympic team.

"Crossing the finish line, I couldn't have known how emotional I would be," Jones said. "This is the culmination of a lot of years. To finally make the team, and run a not-too-shabby time, feels great."

It was only the first of three steps here in Jones' quest for a record five gold medals. She will attempt to qualify for the long jump today, in a field that includes Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who's out to make some history of her own. If Joyner-Kersee can finish in the top three, she will make her fifth Olympic team.

Joyner-Kersee's first Olympic appearance came in 1984 in Los Angeles, and the locals who were captivated by the proceedings included Jones, then 8.

"Jackie is my Olympic hero," Jones said. "I competed against her once, in Indianapolis in 1997. It was a thrill for me then, and without a doubt, it's going to be a thrill again. Everyone knows about her accomplishments on the track, but anyone who talks to her also knows that she's a nice person, genuine."

The long jump final will be held at noon, and it's hump day for Jones. She will be favored to take the 200 a week from today, but she's had ongoing difficulty with her approach on the long jump runway, leading to questions about the pressure she's placed on herself.

"If I had a penny every time someone has asked me that question, I'd be rich," said Jones, whose image has already been heavily marketed. "Maybe that's the wrong choice of words."

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