Phillips takes off, lands in gold

Long jumper goes 28-2 1/4 for win

Moffitt takes silver

Jones, relay team reach final

Track And Field

Athens 2004

August 27, 2004|By Helene Elliott | Helene Elliott,LOS ANGELES TIMES

ATHENS - Dwight Phillips wore gold shoes to compete in the Olympic long jump final. A few hours later, he had a medal to match.

Phillips, a Georgia native who lives in Tempe, Ariz., soared 8.59 meters (28 feet, 2 1/4 inches) on his first jump yesterday and watched his rivals flop and flail in vain attempts to match him.

The 2003 world indoor and outdoor champion sweated only a bit, when teammate John Moffitt went 8.47 meters (27-9 1/2 ) on his fifth try, a personal best by 1 1/4 inches.

"I was immediately excited and I was like, `Come get me. Come get me,'" said Phillips, who has the six longest jumps in the world this season and was 1 centimeter short of matching the 8.60 effort he pulled off Aug. 2.

"[Moffitt] tried, and he got the silver medal."

Their feats produced the first 1-2 U.S. long jump finish since Carl Lewis and Mike Powell in 1992 and sent them skipping and jumping around the Olympic Stadium track with American flags held high.

"I wanted to pressure everybody early," Phillips said of his big first jump, "and I knew if I put the pressure on early, it was going to be very hard to beat me.

"I was very confident going into this competition. I haven't lost a competition in a long time, and I wasn't about to start here."

Joan Lino Martinez of Spain got the bronze medal with a personal-best jump of 8.32 meters (27-3 3/4 ), 1 centimeter longer than James Beckford of Jamaica.

Martinez also got an invitation to Phillips' Nov. 13 wedding to longtime girlfriend Valerie Williams after Phillips mentioned the nuptials at a news conference and Martinez nudged him with an elbow.

"Sure, he can come," Phillips said, beaming.

Meanwhile, it was almost like old times for Marion Jones, except she was the senior member of a swift quartet that matched its season-best time of 41.67 seconds in the 400-meter relay and cruised into tomorrow's final.

"I'm 28 and they're 20, 22. I feel like I need a cane to hang on," Jones said, smiling.

"This team is a lot different than four years ago. They're young, fresh and excited about everything. I'm cool, calm and collected, but I find myself going along with their antics."

There were no escapades yesterday, just blazing speed and smooth handoffs from Angela Williams to Jones to Lauryn Williams to LaTasha Colander. At the Sydney Games, where Jones won five medals, she ran the anchor leg in the final and the United States won a bronze medal after losing precious time to sloppy passing on two of three exchanges.

In other noteworthy events: Terrence Trammell of Atlanta became the only U.S. hurdler to reach today's 110-meter final when he finished second in his semifinal in 13.17 seconds.

Ladji Doucoure of France won the heat with a national-record time of 13.06.

Duane Ross of the United States missed the cutoff by running 13.30 and finishing fifth in his heat. That came a day after Allen Johnson, the 1996 Olympic gold medalist, fell near the end of his second-round heat and failed to finish.

"I feel honored to step up to the challenge of being the sole American," said Trammell, who won a silver medal in Sydney in 2000.

Amy Acuff of Austin, Texas, advanced to tomorrow's women's high jump final by meeting the qualifying standard of 1.95 meters (6-4 3/4 ). However, Tisha Waller of Atlanta was eliminated.

Breaux Greer of Athens, Ga., the U.S. trials javelin champion, had the top qualifying throw in the first round of competition, 87.25 meters (286-3). He's the only American in the event, which ends tomorrow.

In the women's 1,500, Natalya Yevdokimova of Russia won her semifinal heat and advanced to tomorrow's 'final with the top time, 4 minutes 4.66 seconds.

Kelly Holmes of Britain, the 800-meter gold medalist, had the second-fastest time, 4:04.77. Carrie Tollefson of Edina, Minn., failed to advance after running 4:08.55.

Kenya's Wilfred Bungei led qualifiers into tomorrow's ' men's 800 final by winning his heat in 1:44:28. The lone U.S. runner, Jonathan Johnson of Lubbock, Texas, was last among 23 finishers at 1:50.10.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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