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September 22, 2000
Jayasinghe impressive in 100m heats
Controversial Sri Lankan sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe easily won her opening heat in the women's 100 metres in front of more than 100,000 people at the Olympics on Friday and was talking up her hopes for the final.
American Chryste Gaines was the quickest overall in 11.06 seconds, while fellow American and race favourite Marion Jones, aiming for a record five gold medals in Sydney, ran 11.20.
"I'm going to do something, but I can't tell what yet," said Jayasinghe, fifth fastest overall after running 11.15 in her heat ahead of Anzhela Kravchenko of Ukraine in 11.35 and Nigeria's Mary Onyali-Omagbemi in 11.36.
"I have big hopes. I feel so good, I'm strong," Jayasinghe, the former world 200 metres silver medallist told Reuters.
"The time is okay, not bad, not good. But we will see, I have three more races to run."
The top three runners from each heat qualify automatically for the next round later on Friday.
The Sri Lankan said last week she had put a drug scandal and injury worries behind her, adding she felt she could repeat her surprise silver medal in the world championships three years ago.
That performance in Athens shocked the athletics world and made her national hero. Within months, she tested positive for an anabolic steroid but was later cleared by Sri Lankan athletics officials.
Jayasinghe was then hit by lower back and hamstring problems, and a dispute with sports officials in Sri Lanka which led to her leaving to train in the United States.
Sri Lanka have won only one Olympic medal, a silver in the 400 metres hurdles by Duncan White in 1948 in London.
Asia's fastest man, Japan's Koji Ito moved into the second round of the men's event after running 10.45 in his heat, taking third place behind Christopher Williams of Jamaica in 10.35 and Mathew Quinn of South Africa in 10.44.
World champion Maurice Greene qualified with utmost ease in 10.31, with his training partner, Trinidad's Ato Boldon, the 1997 world 200 champion, qualifying fastest in 10.04.
Ito said running in front of the massive crowd in the Olympic stadium was an overwhelming experience.
"At the start, I could not concentrate, I was very, very nervous," he said. "I never before saw so many people for a heat."
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