- The Washington Times - Friday, August 27, 2004

ATHENS — Shawn Crawford stood silently amid the Greek chorus of whistles and boos delaying his race. For four minutes, he fought to stay composed while rowdy fans chanted the name of their country and their disgraced sprinting star.

It made little difference to Crawford and his teammates. They finished 1-2-3 in the 200 meters yesterday in a big night for U.S. athletes before a cranky crowd that wanted to see defending champion Kostas Kenteris and got an American sweep instead.

Crawford took the lead off the turn and finished in 19.79 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and a personal best. Bernard Williams tied his personal best of 20.01 seconds for silver. Justin Gatlin, the 100 champion, won bronze in 20.03.

“We’re here at the birthplace of the Olympics, the defending Olympic champion is from Greece and there were certain situations that didn’t allow him to compete,” Crawford said. “I can understand their feelings, I know they’re disappointed, I know they’re upset.”

The crowd still cheered at the finish. It was the sixth time the United States has taken all three 200 medals — the last sweep was led by Carl Lewis in 1984.

And it gave the United States a total of 18 track and field medals, just two behind the total from Sydney, with the relays and several other events still to come. Russia is next with nine medals.

Dwight Phillips added to the U.S. haul, leading a 1-2 American finish in the long jump with NCAA champion John Moffitt taking silver.

And in the first round of the 400-meter relay, Marion Jones ran the second leg as the U.S. team’s 41.67 matched its own best time in the world this year.

Crawford and Williams were doing a victory lap, draped together in an American flag, when Phillips climbed the victory stand to accept his gold medal. The sprinters stopped on the track as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played. Williams put his right hand over his heart.

Crawford was asked whether he felt cheated because his victory lap was cut short.

“I didn’t worry about that,” he said. “I got a full gold medal.”

Olympic Stadium was packed, largely because Greeks thought they would be watching Kenteris, who withdrew from the Athens Games after missing a drug test.

The start of the 200 was delayed four minutes while spectators whistled in derision and chanted “Kenteris” and “Hellas, Hellas” — the Greek word for Greece. They booed loudest when the Americans were introduced.

Crawford, a flamboyant personality who had showboated mercilessly in earlier heats, was unusually subdued after the finish.

His victory gave controversial coach Trevor Graham a sweep of the men’s short sprints. Crawford and Gatlin are training partners under Graham, who acknowledged on the night of Gatlin’s 100-meter victory that he was the coach who sent a syringe of a mystery steroid to authorities last year — fueling the drug scandal that has swept the sport.

Phillips won the long jump with a leap of 28 feet, 21/4 inches on his first attempt. Moffitt won silver at 27-91/2. Joan Lino Martinez of Spain took the bronze medal.

Four years ago in Sydney, Americans failed to medal in the long jump for the first time since the boycotted 1980 Moscow Games.

“It’s been such a great Olympic Games, just so many positive things happening,” Phillips said.

Felix Sanchez won the Dominican Republic’s first Olympic gold medal, capturing the 400-meter hurdles in more of a coronation than a triumph. Sanchez has not lost in more than three years, winning two world championships and dominating his event more than any other track and field athlete.

Sanchez, born in New York and raised in San Diego, won in 47.63. Danny McFarlane of Jamaica took silver in 48.11 and Naman Keita was third in 48.26. James Carter faded badly to fourth in the final stretch, and U.S. teammate Bennie Brazell was last.

Also yesterday, Terrence Trammell advanced to the final of the 110-meter hurdles, but U.S. teammate Duane Ross failed to make it out of the semifinals. Allen Johnson, the four-time world champion and a medal favorite, fell in the second round on Wednesday.

France’s Ladji Doucoure ran the fastest time of 13.06 in the semifinals. Trammell, a silver medalist in Sydney, tied for second fastest with 13.17. Also reaching the final were defending champion Anier Garcia of Cuba and medal favorite Liu Xiang of China.

In the 400-meter relay, Jones took the baton and sped down the straightaway. By the time she handed it off to 100-meter silver medalist Lauryn Williams, the United States was well on its way to winning the heat.

The race may have implications long after the Olympics. Jones is under investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and if she is found guilty of using banned drugs it could impact any medal the team might win.

Jones has not been charged with doping and had repeatedly denied she ever used performance-enhancing substances. But her ex-husband, former shot putter C.J. Hunter, reportedly has told federal agents she used banned drugs before, during and after the Sydney Games.

USA Track & Field officials decided to use Jones despite the drug cloud surrounding her and the precedent of the Jerome Young case.

Young ran on the victorious 1,600 relay in Sydney after testing positive for steroids a year earlier. He was stripped of his medal in June and the world governing body of track and field has recommended that the entire U.S. team — including Michael Johnson — forfeit the gold.

U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Jim Scherr said before the games began that USATF officials should keep the Young case in mind as they decided on relay squads for the Athens Games.

“They have that benefit of hindsight now, and we would hope they exercise it judiciously,” he said.

Tonight, Jones will compete in the long jump final and the relay — her only events of the Athens Games.

She won five medals at the 2000 Sydney Games, but failed to qualify this summer in the 100 and dropped out of the 200 at the U.S. Olympic trials. Jones won both sprints in Sydney, where she also led the 1,600-meter relay team to gold.

Jones towers over the other three members of the team — Williams, Angela Williams and LaTasha Colander. She’s also the resident senior citizen.

“This team is a lot different than four years ago. They’re young, they’re fresh, they’re excited about every little thing, and that brings a little more excitement to it all,” Jones said. “I’m only 28 but I feel like the old lady of the bunch.”

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