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September 11, 2000
Merlene Ottey struts her stuffMitch Phillips
Merlene Ottey made what looked like an irresistible case for inclusion in the Jamaican Olympic 100 metres team when she scorched to victory in 10.91 seconds in a warm-up meet at a windy Runaway Bay on Sunday.
The 40-year-old veteran of five Olympics is currently only a reserve after finishing fourth in the Jamaican trials although she has run faster this season than any of the three women who beat her.
Ottey, whose 100 metres silver in 1996 was her seventh Olympic medal, was only cleared to compete in the Games by an International Amateur Athletic Federation arbitration panel in July after testing positive for nandrolone last year.
But she looked as sharp as ever on Sunday as she opened with 11.15 seconds in the heats and then roared to her best time of the season in the final.
Although a following wind of 2.4 metres was marginally too strong for it too count as a legal time, Ottey was delighted.
"I've trained really hard for the last two months and that felt good today," she said.
But she said that she wasn't making a statement to the Jamaican selectors. "It was my goal to qualify for a sixth Olympics and now I just have to wait to see if Jamaica will let me run," she said.
Ottey finished behind Peta-Gaye Dowdie, Beverly McDonald and Tanya Lawrence in the trials but since then has run 11.00 in Slovenia in August and now this.
Jamaican officials have said that she will only be included if any of the three lose form before the games but Ottey said she was disappointed not to have been given special dispensation after the problems of her drugs ban.
"I've represented Jamaica for 20 years and never before finished out of the top three in qualifying. In the past they have made room for others to prove their fitness and I was just hoping for the same treatment," she said.
Ottey said if she wasn't selected for the individual event she would not run in the relay. "I think I'll take a vacation," she said.
In the men's 100 metres Briton Jason Gardener continued his renaissance with a wind-assisted 10.04 to just edge out compatriot Ian Mackie (10.05).
Gardener, who has a best of 9.98, set last year, has only recently shaken off an injury and came to Australia three weeks ahead of the bulk of the British team to put in some serious training.
His heat time of 10.16 was legal but he said the long wait for the final caused him to lose some of his edge. "It got a bit cold and there were too many false starts but it felt pretty relaxed," he said.
In the field events Australian shot-putter Justin Anlezark set a new national record for the second time in three days, this time smashing the mark with a throw of 20.35 metres.
Anlezark, who is set to become the first Australian man to compete in an Olympic shot putt competition since 1960, broke his own record by 1 cm with a throw of 19.88 metres on Friday but found another 47 cm on Sunday.
Australian long jumper Peter Burge, the Commonwealth champion, leapt to a mighty 8.48 metres in the gathering gloom but a strong following wind prevented it erasing Jai Taurima's Australian record of 8.35.
World pole vault record holder Stacy Dragila of the United States claimed another victory over the former holder Emma George to boost her confidence ahead of the inaugural women's Olympic pole vault competition.
Dragila cleared 4.40 metres while Australian George looked out of sorts and could only manage 4.15.
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