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September 28, 2000
Kenteris stuns men's 200m fieldThe Rediff Team
This was the mathematical race. The one we could predict before it was run.
How did the equation go? Michael Johnson is not defending his Atlanta gold. Maurice Greene is not running, either. Ergo, Ato Boldon, silver winner in the men's 100m and Greene's training partner, was a shoo-in to win.
Trouble being, there was this Greek who apparently doesn't read the newspapers, or listen to the pundits. And in under 21 seconds, he flew from anonymity to acclaim, taking the men's 200m gold in a fantastic finish and, in the process, upsetting many fancied names.
Off the blocks, Ato Boldon of Trinidad was the fastest, bursting through in lane 8 and leading from the front. John Capel of the US -- the last-minute man, who came through first in the team trials in a race in which first Michael Johnson, then Maurice Greene, pulled up with injuries -- was doing strongly to justify pre-race predictions as the man to watch.
And then, things began to happen. The British runner, Darren Campbell -- trained by Linford Christie, whom he idolises and whose style he copies -- burst through to upstage Capel. The American seemed stunned as Campbell went past him just ahead of the turn, and faded away to finish last.
Meanwhile, Obadele Thompson, another medal contender, came through in six to challenge the leaders. And Boldon suddenly found himself running for his life, as the field came around the bend.
And suddenly, out of the blue, the Greek wearing blue made a brilliant run down the straight, racing past the others like they were all standing still. He built a lead going into the last 50 and despite the best efforts of an elite field, it was the unknown Greek, Konstantinos Kenteris, who had won the glamour event of the day.
Kenteris timed 20.09; Campbell came in second in 20.14, and Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago won bronze in the event for the second straight Olympics, timing 20.20.
Americans Coby Miller and John Capel finished seventh and eighth. Which makes this the first time (not counting the 1980 Moscow Games, which the USA boycotted) since 1928 than an American had not placed for a medal in the men's 200m final.
An amazing race had ended, and a new sprint star was born.
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