Williams' magic number is 200

After his failure in 100 meters, Carver graduate secures trip to Athens with 3rd-place finish

July 19, 2004|By Elliott Denman | Elliott Denman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Bernard Williams can smile again. The frown he wore around town for a week - after running an unhappy sixth in the U.S. Olympic trials 100-meter dash final - is gone.

The transformation took exactly 20.30 seconds.

That's the time it took the Carver graduate to place third in the 200-meter dash final yesterday at Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium, clinching his ticket to the Athens Games.

The 20.30 was his slowest 200 time of the trials - he had run 20.07 in the quarterfinals and 20.15 in the semifinals Saturday.

But it was one of the most meaningful time spans of his life.

"I thank God I made the team. I thank the people of Baltimore. I thank my family. I thank everybody's who's been behind me," said Williams, who lives and trains in Gainesville, Fla., and was a gold medalist in the 400 relay in the 2000 Sydney Games.

He became Maryland's third 2004 track and field Olympian, joining James Carter (400 hurdles) and Tiombe Hurd (triple jump), both trials champions.

As Shawn Crawford was winning the 200 final in 19.99, edging Justin Gatlin, who ran 20.01, Williams, running out of Lane 6, was waging his own battle with Darvis Patton.

It boiled down to the final meters and Williams won the duel for third, 20.30 to 20.32.

John Capel, the 2003 world champion but running out of the unfavorable Lane 1 yesterday, finished sixth in 20.72.

"My plan was to go after Gatlin and run for Crawford," Williams said. "I caught Gatlin on the turn, but Crawford made up the stagger [distance] on me on the straightaway.

"At that point, I was just using what was left in my body. Whatever place I was in, I couldn't panic. I just stayed within myself, and everything worked out."

Williams admits the 200 is "my least favorite event - because it's twice as far [as his 100 specialty]."

But now he's ready to embrace this half-lap distance.

"I just wanted to go after those guys," he said. "I knew I didn't make it in the 100 so I had to do something big today.

"I've got a lot to learn about the 200," he added. "It's not been something I've concentrated on. I've got some time now, time to get stronger, faster and better."

Said Olympic sprint-relay coach Curtis Fry: "Bernard Williams is a great talent and a real asset to the Olympic team. We'll put his ability and experience to work."

Meanwhile, on the final day of the trials, Gail Devers, 37, became just the third U.S. track and field athlete - joining Carl Lewis and Willye White - to make her fifth Olympic team, barely winning the 100-meter hurdles.

"Each time is like a new experience for me," Devers said. "I try to look at it as though it's my first time."

Devers edged Joanna Hayes in a photo finish. Devers was timed in 12.547 seconds and Hayes in 12.549.

Stacy Dragila, 33, the defending Olympic champion, won the women's pole vault but failed in three attempts to break the world record. She missed at 16 feet, 1/2 inch, which would have topped Svetlana Feofanova's mark of 16 feet.

Alan Webb, 21, won the men's 1,500 and will try to end a 36-year U.S. Olympic medal drought in that event. He pulled away from the field to win by more than two seconds. But his time of 3 minutes, 36.13 seconds was just the 86th fastest in the world this year.

Allyson Felix, 18, won the women's 200 meters and Muna Lee, 22, was second.

Terrence Trammell won the men's 110 hurdles in 13.09. Duane Ross was second and world champion Allen Johnson was third.

Carrie Tollefson won the women's 1,500 but still needs to reach the Olympic qualifying standard to make it to Athens.

Suzy Favor Hamilton withdrew before the race with a sore hamstring, but still could go to Athens - her fourth Olympics - because she's the only American woman who has made the qualifying standard this season.

Jamie Nieto won the men's high jump, Jarred Rome won the men's discus and 41-year-old Teresa Vaill won the women's 20-kilometer walk.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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