Marion Jones in starring role
Marion Jones steps on to the track on Thursday in pursuit of the second of her projected five gold medals at the Sydney Olympics.
After surviving what she described as her toughest day on Wednesday with the first two rounds of the 200 metres and the long jump qualifying, the 24-year-old American runs in the semifinals and final of the 200.
Jones showed no signs on Wednesday of the turmoil she must be feeling after the revelations this week that her husband C.J. Hunter had tested positive four times for the anabolic steroid nandrolone.
"She's relaxed and she's focused," coach Trevor Graham told Reuters. "It's her Olympics."
Jones said she had received several e-mails supporting herself and Hunter. "Overall the support has been incredible," she said.
If the women's 200 seems a foregone conclusion, the men's race is shaping up as a classic.
American champion John Capel and European 100 metres champion Darren Campbell of Britain were the fastest qualifiers for the semifinals with identical times of 20.13 seconds.
Obadele Thompson of Barbados, bronze medallist in the 100 metres, won his heat and silver medallist Ato Boldon of Trinidad, the 1997 world champion, also qualified.
The first athletics gold medal of the day will be decided in the women's 20 km walk, a new event, where Tatyana Gudkova heads a strong Russian team.
Two other titles will be decided in the women's shot put and the men's long jump, an event won by Carl Lewis for four successive Games. Cuban Ivan Pedroso is favoured to become the first new champion since the 1980 Moscow Games.
American champion Chris Huffins holds a six-point lead going into the second day of the decathlon ahead of Britain's world silver medallist Dean Macey.
Besides the six athletics titles, 11 other medal events will be contested at the Sydney Games on Thursday.
The men's tennis singles gold will be decided by a showdown between Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Tommy Haas of Germany. The women's doubles title will also be contested.
There will be three diving medal events - the women's 3-metre springboard, women's synchronised 10-metre platform and men's synchronised 3-metre springboard.
In sailing the men's and women's 470 will be decided.
The rest of the medal events are the equestrian team jumping, taekwondo women's 57kg and men's 68kg, and women's soccer.
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