Saturday, September 30|
Injury-depleted relay settles for bronze
SYDNEY, Australia -- Marion Jones is good enough to run down
a runner from behind -- but not that far behind.
The U.S. women's 400-meter relay team had practiced with Jones
only once, earlier on Saturday. The rest of them had practiced for
only two days.
Two of the best sprinters, Inger Miller and Gail Devers, were
back home with injuries.
So the U.S. women managed only a disjointed, third-place effort
Saturday night, behind silver medalist Jamaica and the elated gold
medalists from the Bahamas, who earned their country's first track
and field gold.
On the medal stand, the four Bahamians -- Sevatheda Fynes,
Chandra Sturrup, Pauline Davis-Thompson and Debbie Ferguson --
loudly sang their nation's anthem as it was played for the first
time at an Olympic track and field venue.
"I want to say to the people of my country, we love you dearly.
Thanks for all of the support and respect we have gotten from you.
This is for you, the people of the Bahamas," Davis-Thompson loudly
proclaimed as her smiling coach led her away from reporters.
The U.S. team looked befuddled.
It's a good thing Jones wasn't counting on this one to keep her
gold-medal streak alive. The way the Americans were passing the
sticks, they were fortunate to even get a bronze.
"We were just going in kind of blind with the passes and trying
to make safe passes," said Torri Edwards. "But this time it just
didn't work out."
The Bahamian runners said they should have proved a point by
beating the United States for the second time in as many years.
"We are the world champions, and now the Olympic champions,"
said Davis-Thompson, who ran the third leg. "Everyone said it was
a fluke we won before, but we showed them again.
"We got no respect from the United States. We got no respect
from the entire world," Davis-Thompson said. "We just had to go
out and prove to them that, yes, we are a poor nation that is only
a dot on the map, but we are a very powerful nation.
"We are deserving of this gold medal. We just went out there
and earned that respect from the United States and the entire
It was Davis-Thompson, who after she finished second to Jones in
the 200, had promised that her country would give Jones "a hell of
That race never materialized, thanks to a pair of shaky baton
exchanges, one between Edwards and Nanceen Perry and one between
Perry and Jones.
Perry said that as she started out running and awaiting the
baton, she heard Edwards say, "Wait!"
"I started to slow down and she said `Wait' again," Perry
said. "Eventually, I just had to look back and grab it."
Chryste Gaines, who ran the first leg for the United States,
said the team's coaches had worked to add another step to the
exchange between Perry and Edwards, but it didn't help in the
When Perry got to Jones, there was another problem. Jones had to
wait, and never got off to a running start. She was virtually
standing still when she got the baton. And she was far behind.
Jones' third-place finish in the long jump Thursday night may
have eased the pain of the 400-meter relay failure.
It didn't seem to mean so much.
|Marion Jones, left, could not negate the lead made by Debbie Ferguson and the Bahamas relay team.|
Track and field results
Jones leads relay team to gold; U.S. men sweep
Jones still makes history with five medals
Men's relay team offends some with display after victory