Williams wins Olympic silver in women’s 100m

08-21-2004

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ATHENS - Lauryn Williams (Miami, Fla.), tagged all year with the expectation of ushering in the next generation of great American women's sprinters, on Saturday exceeded those expectations by winning the 100 meters Olympic silver medal in a brilliant and poised run.

The 20-year-old native of Pittsburgh got perhaps the best start of her life and nearly stole the gold medal. But Yuliya Nesterenko of Belarus, a relative unknown entering the Games who made an impression by running sub-11 seconds in each round, came on to nip Williams in the final meters, winning the gold in 10.93 seconds.

The diminutive Williams leaned her 5-foot, 3-inch frame as far forward as the laws of physics would allow to win the silver in a personal-best time of 10.96 seconds. The lean put her just .01 ahead of Veronica Campbell of Jamaica (10.97), but .01 is all she needed. Olympic Trials champion LaTasha Colander was hobbled by a slow start and finished eighth in 11.18.

Williams qualified for the final with a semifinal win in 11.01 seconds, while Colander was fourth in the same race in 11.18. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Gail Devers (Duluth, Ga.), running with a wrapped left calf, was seventh in her race in 11.22 and did not advance.

In the second and final day of the women's heptathlon, 2001 world outdoor bronze medalist Shelia Burrell (Chula Vista, Calif.) moved from ninth to fourth after the javelin, where she threw 47.69m/156-5 for 815 points. She then ran 2:15.32 in the 800 (888) to finish in fourth place overall with 6,296 points. Michelle Perry (Los Angeles) threw 38.36m/125-10 in the javelin (636) and ran 2:13.69 in the 800 (911) to finish 14th with 6,124 points, just 2 points off her personal best. Tiffany Lott-Hogan (Pleasant Grove, Utah) posted marks of 45.84m/150-5 in the javelin (780 points) and 2:25.10 in the 800 (756) to finish 20th with 6,066 points. Heavily favored Carolina Kluft of Sweden won the gold with 6,952 points, with Astra Skujyte of Lithuania second with 6,435 and Kelly Sotherton of Great Britain third with 6,424.

Blazing men's 100m round

Saturday night got off to a tension-building beginning, courtesy of the men's 100-meter quarterfinals. Olympic Stadium was practically vibrating by the time the fifth of five races was over as a series of jaw-dropping - and easy-looking - speed was put on display.

Francis Obikwelu of Portugal set the tone Saturday night when he ran a national record 9.93 seconds to win heat 1. Just moments later, Team USA's Shawn Crawford (Raleigh, N.C.) took the track - sans the hat and glasses he sported in the morning rounds - and laid down a 9.89-second win. Next up was Crawford's training partner, Justin Gatlin (Raleigh, N.C.), who won heat 3 in 9.96 seconds.

The only pause in the action was a heat 4 winning time of 10.02 by Aziz Zahan of Ghana, a time that in a rational universe would be considered very fast for a quarterfinal.

Heat 5 featured a rematch between 30-year-old defending gold medalist Maurice Greene (Granada Hills, Calif.) and 21-year-old Asafa Powell of Jamaica, who had beaten Greene in their two post-Olympic Trials European meetings. On Saturday evening, Greene got a remarkable start, then played cat-and-mouse with Powell as the two men strode easily toward the finish, Powell looking to his left at Greene, and Greene looking straight ahead. Greene won the race in 9.93, with Powell second in 9.99.

More finalists to come

All three Americans advanced to Monday's final of the men's 400m, led by 20-year-old Olympic Trials champion Jeremy Wariner (Waco, Tex.), who won heat 1 in 44.87 seconds, the fastest time of the day. Also advancing were Derrick Brew (Raleigh, N.C.), first in heat 2 in 45.05, and Otis Harris, second in heat 3 in 44.99.

American record holder Jearl Miles-Clark (Knoxville, Tenn.) will compete in her first Olympic 800m final on Monday after posting the fourth-fastest time of Saturday's semifinal round. Miles-Clark, who was fifth at the 1996 Olympic Games in the 400, was third in the first 800m semifinal in 1:58.71. Although only the top two finishers of each of three races automatically advanced, Clark's time earned her one of two time-qualifying spots for the final. American indoor record holder Nicole Teter (Palo Alto, Calif.) was fourth in the second semi in 1:59.50 and did not advance.

Olympic Trials champion Daniel Lincoln (Fayetteville, Ark.) made Tuesday's final of the men's 3,000m steeplechase in his first Olympic appearance. The three-time NCAA champion was fourth in the first of three heats, running 8:19.62 to qualify on time. Teammate Robert Gary (Westerville, Ohio) was 12th in heat 2 in 8:46.17, and Anthony Famiglietti (Knoxville, Tenn.) hit his knee on a barrier and finished eighth in heat 3 in 8:31.59. Neither advanced.

The shock of the night came in women's pole vault qualifying. Stacy Dragila (Phoenix, Ariz.) will not have the opportunity to defend her Olympic gold medal after clearing just 4.30m/14-1.25, short of the 4.40m/14-5.5 needed to advance and nearly 21 inches off her American record of 4.83m/15-10 from earlier this summer. Struggling with Achilles problems in both legs since the Olympic Trials, Dragila never found her form and was not close on any of her three attempts at 4.40m. Also failing to advance were Jillian Schwartz (Jonesboro, Ark.) at 4.30m/14-1.25 and Kellie Suttle (Jonesboro, Ark.) at 4.15m/13-7.25.

A Tiombe Hurd (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and Yuliana Perez (Fayetteville, Ark.) did not make it out of women's triple jump qualifying. Hurd's best mark of 13.98m/45-10.5 placed her 22nd in qualifying, while Perez was 28th with 13.62m/44-8.25.

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