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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.

Marion Jones, Debbie Ferguson
Marion Jones, left, could not negate the lead made by Debbie Ferguson and the Bahamas relay team.

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 world."

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 a race."

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 finals.

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.


Track and field results

Jones leads relay team to gold; U.S. men sweep

Jones still makes history with five medals

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