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Saturday, September 23
Jones breezes in 10.75, Greene in 9.87

SYDNEY, Australia -- Marion Jones had barely finished her victory lap when Maurice Greene joined her as an Olympic 100-meter champion.

Jones, who as a youngster wrote on a bedroom blackboard "I want to be an Olympic champion," got her wish on a chilly, windswept Saturday by winning the women's 100-meter final in 10.75 seconds.

Marion Jones
Marion Jones finishes off her 10.75 seconds of excitement -- and years of dreaming -- by winning the gold medal in the 100 meters.

One down, four to go.

"It's been my dream for 19 years, and finally it's here," said a sobbing Jones, who hopes to win five gold medals in Sydney.

Her winning margin of 37-hundredths of a second over Ekaterini Thanou of Greece was the second biggest in Olympic 100-meter history.

Jones had just completed a joyous, playful lap around the Olympic Stadium, waving small U.S. and Belize flags, when Greene sped to his gold medal with a time of 9.87 seconds. Jones' mother was born in Belize.

Greene wrapped his head in his hands after crossing the finish line, then pulled off his red-white-and-blue shoes and held them high. He threw them into the crowd and draped himself in a U.S. flag.

"You work four years for something that's only going to last nine seconds. It's hard to do," Greene said. "I'm overjoyed and overwhelmed and everything and just filled with joy."

Jones, wearing chrome-plated shoes so shiny they looked like mirrors, went sleeveless on a cool night on which wind swirled around the soldout 110,000-seat Olympic Stadium.

After a false start by Thanou, Jones made up an early deficit to Jamaica's Tanya Lawrence and sped past the field to win by a comfortable margin. Thanou won the silver medal in 11.12 seconds and Lawrence was third in 11.18.

The only bigger winning margin in an Olympic 100-meter final, either men's or women's, was Marjorie Jackson's win by .38 over Daphne Hasenjager in 1952.

Merlene Ottey of Jamaica, who has won seven Olympic medals, finished fourth -- a hundredth of a second behind Lawrence. Ottey, 40, recently returned from a one-year drug suspension.

Jones' victory was the first step in her quest for five golds. Only one track athlete, the "Flying Finn" Paavo Nurmi, has won that many in one Olympics. He did it in Paris 76 years ago.

"It's nice to have the first one done. I don't know if it's going to be harder or easier (from now on)," she said. "I've seen a lot of Olympic Games, I've seen a lot of people cross the (finish) line and I was thinking about it.

"I was like, 'There's no way. I was going to cross that line and be a cool cat. I'm going to run, I'm going to celebrate. Then when you cross that line and everything all of a sudden just hits you when you realize that you can be described as an Olympic champion, finally, it was very emotional."

Jones' husband, shot putter C.J. Hunter, was all smiles as his wife circled the track.

"I'm just very, very happy. That's what she likes is challenges," Hunter said. "I think this is the easiest of her events, but we're totally confident she can do anything."

In the men's 100, Greene defeated training partner and Sydney housemate Ato Boldon of Trinidad & Tobago, who took silver after getting the bronze medal in Atlanta. Boldon finished in 9.99 seconds. Obadele Thompson of Barbados was third in 10.04.

"I knew this was a race Maurice would have to give away for anybody else to have a chance," Boldon said. "Maurice just destroyed us out there, to be honest."

Greene failed to qualify for the 1996 Olympics and cried in the stands while watching the 100 final at the Atlanta Games. This time, he was all smiles as he crossed the finish line and thrust his fist in the air.

"I remember crying in Atlanta," Greene said. "I'm glad it's all over. I have a lot of pressure off me and now I have other things I want to accomplish."

Chief among those goals, Greene said, is lowering his own world record of 9.79 seconds.

When he received his medal from International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch, Greene blew kisses to the crowd.

Jones seemed to study her gold medal at first, then caressed it as she stood on the winner's podium.

Also Saturday, Michael Johnson and Cathy Freeman easily won second-round heats in the 400 and advanced to the semifinals Sunday.

Other American athletes had trouble at the track earlier in the day.

In the women's 800 semifinals, only one of the three Clark sisters survived. Hazel Clark, the youngest of the three, advanced to the final. Older sister Joetta Clark-Diggs and sister-in-law Jearl Miles-Clark both were eliminated.

Lance Deal, a silver medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Games and the grand old man of U.S. hammer throwing, ended his Olympic career in disappointment. Deal, 39, and the other Americans in the hammer, Jud Logan and Kevin McMahon, all failed to advance out of the qualifying round.

All three American men in the 800 meters -- Mark Everett, Bryan Woodward and Richard Kenah -- flopped in Saturday's first round.


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