Go the Jones girl!
The Rediff Team
Marion Jones enters phase two of her campaign for five golds, when she turns out at Stadium Australia for the heats of the women's 200m and the long jump.
Jones has topped world rankings in the 200m since 1997, and registered a season's best 21.94 in the US team trials. On the other hand, she is yet to win a world title over the distance -- the reigning world champion being compatriot Inger Miller. Nanceen Perry finished third in the US team trials, registering the third fastest time this year.
Attempting to upstage Team USA over the 200m are the likes of Cathy Freeman, Melinda Gainsford-Taylor and Lauren Hewitt of Australia.
While the women's lineup over the distance sizzles with promise, the men's 200m is not in the same league, thanks to the absence of both Michael Johnson, the world record holder, and Maurice Greene, the fastest man on earth. Ato Boldon, Greene's Trinidadian training partner, heads the lineup and on form, looks to be the favourite to take gold here.
On the medals podium, look for Gail Deevers in the 100m hurdles. Having taken golds over the distance, but sans the hurdles, in Barcelona and Atlanta, Deevers showed good form in the heats and semifinals of the event, coming in as the third fastest qualifier behind Kazhakstan's Olga Shishigina and USA's Melissa Morrison.
Hugely favoured for the 800m, meanwhile, will be world record holder and three time world champion Wilson Kipketer, contesting his first ever Olympics. A stutter in the heats was forgotten as he produced a fine run in the semis, turning in a time of 1:44.22. Ranged against him will be Algerian Aissa Djabir Said-Guerni, and Nils Schummann, the German who came in third fastest in the semis.
The men's and women's 400m hurdles promise interesting competition. Hadi Souan Somayli of Saudi Arabia surprised himself and everyone else with a very fast run in the semis, showing great finishing speed to finish up as the fastest qualifier, ahead of the likes of Herbert Llewellyn Herbert of South Africa, Angelo Taylor of the US, and Fabrizio Mori of Italy.
For the women's side of the event, the stage is set for a showdown beteen Deon Hemmings of Jamaica and Irina Privilova of Russia, easily the two best in the event. In the semis, they qualified with just 0.02 seconds seperating them, and that promises a sizzling final.
The women's discuss final should be a face off between Ellina Zvereva of Belarus and Natalya Sadova of Russia.
Among the qualifying rounds for the day, events to watch out for include the men's decathlon, five events of which will be held today and which features world record holder Tomas Dvorak of the Czech republic. Qualifying rounds are also scheduled, this morning, for the 3,000m steeplechase, the men's pole vault and 5,000m, the women's hammer throw, 1,500m,10,000m, shot put and long jump.
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