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September 28, 2000
Marion Jones takes twoThe Rediff Team
There were two races being run. In one, Marion Jones raced herself, all alone.
In the other, seven other contenders raced for silver and bronze.
After one false start, the runners burst off the blocks and it was, predictably, Jones off in the fastest reaction time. One explosive burst off the blocks, and within the first ten metres the pattern for the race was set -- Jones was already a couple of feet in front and yet to really accelerate, while Pauline Davis-Thompson, Susantika Jayasinghe, Debbie Ferguson and Beverley McDonald jockeying to bring up the second and third positions.
Jones pulled away from the pack around the bend, opening up a lead close to a metre, and then seemed to ease into a casual sprint, never really looking like she was even trying to clock her best time, leave alone try to set records. She touched base in 21.84, way ahead of the 22.40 she clocked in the semis, but still inside of her top speed over the distance.
Jayasinghe and Davis-Thompson battled for the second spot, with the Sri Lankan leading initially, then Davis taking over with about 50m to go.
And that was the position they came home in -- Jones, Davis-Thompson, Jayasinghe, the last named giving Sri Lanka its first medal of the Games.
Cathy Freeman just managed to finish in seventh, saving herself the ignominy of coming in last in a race that, at least in Australia, was billed as the sprint showdown between Freeman and Jones. Fellow Aussie Gainsford-Taylor came in sixth, just ahead of Freeman -- which figures, since Gainsford-Taylor holds the national record over the event while Freeman rarely runs the 200m.
The official finishing times read: Marion Jones (US) 21.84; Pauline Davis-Thompson (Bahamas) 22.27; Susantika Jayasinghe (Sri Lanka) 22.28; Beverly McDonald (Jamaica) 22.35; Debbie Ferguson (Bahamas) 22.62; Melinda Gainsford-Taylor (Australia) 22.62; Cathy Freeman (Australia) 22.53; Zhanna Pintusehvych (Ukraine) 22.66.
With this, Marion now has two of the five golds she was aiming for. 24 hours earlier, she took just one jump to qualify for the high jump finals, which is slated for tomorrow. And with that, her individual events end, and her shot at history becomes a collective effort, as she lines up with the American relay squads in the 4x100 and 4x400.
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