- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2001

EDMONTON, Alberta She is no longer world champion. Of her eight fastest 100-meter races, none has come in the last two seasons.
Has the world caught up to Marion Jones? Or is she slowing down?
Jones' streak of 42 consecutive victories in 100-meter finals came to a dramatic end Monday evening when she was beaten by Zhanna Pintusevich-Block of Ukraine at the world championships.
She also lost to Pintusevich-Block in the semifinals, and bronze medalist Ekaterini Thanou of Greece had noticed that this was not the same Marion Jones who was so dominant in the past.
"She is a different athlete," Thanou said. "All this year, she wasn't having a good performance. She ran times like 11-something, or 10.90. She used to run 10.70 or 10.80."
Pintusevich-Block won in 10.82 seconds. Jones was second in 10.85. It was a career best for the Ukranian. Jones has run faster 21 times.
Still, she brushed aside any suggestion that she is not the runner she used to be.
"A 10.85 is nothing to be disappointed about," she said. "I guess I spoiled a lot of people, including myself, running all the 10.7's and 10.6's."
A bit of burnout would be understandable. Jones makes everything she does look easy, but the pressure is intense. As Jones noted earlier this week, "every time I step out on the track, I feel like all eyes are on me."
This has been an emotional year for Jones off the track.
She has separated and is seeking a divorce from her husband, shot putter C.J. Hunter, who was her constant companion through her Olympic year in 2000 and helped her in workouts.
Hunter was suspended from competition after testing positive four times for the steroid nandrolone.
Although most of her fastest times came in 1998, the incredible season when she won 35 of 36 events 100, 200 and long jump she entered, Jones refuses to believe her best could be behind her.
After all, she is only 25.
"I'm still learning as a sprinter," Jones said. "I ran extremely fast last year in Stockholm with a bit of a wind [10.68 seconds, wind-aided]. I stay positive in the fact that I think my times will still improve. I'm still quite young and I have the world ahead of me."
Jones has broken 10.8 seconds 15 times, more than all other female sprinters combined. Eleven of those times came in that fabulous 1998 season, including her personal best of 10.65.
Last year, Jones broke 10.8 three times, including a 10.75 in winning the Olympic gold medal in Sydney.
Yet in Edmonton, she was a wire-to-wire loser. Pintusevich beat Jones out of the blocks. Jones almost caught her at 70 meters, but didn't quite have enough.
Pintusevich-Block had come close before. At the world championships in Athens in 1997, she thought she had beaten Jones and had begun her victory lap when it was revealed she had lost by two-hundredths of a second.
"Words cannot describe how I feel," Pintusevich-Block said after her long-sought victory.
Jones will be back on the Commonwealth Stadium track today for the 200-meter preliminaries, and probably will run in the 400-meter relay this weekend.
Friend and Bahamian training partner Chandra Sturrup just smiled and shook her head when asked how motivated Jones will be.
"Oh," Sturrup said, "she's going to be coming back for revenge."

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