- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2004

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Marion Jones had a poor start in winning the Millrose Games’ 60-meter dash Friday night in New York. In kicking off her run for the Olympics in Athens later this year, she might have jump-started the 97th edition of one of the world’s most prestigious indoor track meets.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist had a triumphant return from pregnancy last year and also might have been responsible for helping sell 14,154 tickets, a 70 percent hike over 2003, in the second stop on USA Track & Field’s Golden Spike Tour.

To her credit, Jones also turned back solid competition from veterans Inger Miller and Torri Edwards, as well as teenage sensation Allyson Felix and Lisa Barber, and won in 7.21. Runner-up Angela Daigle was the only woman close at the finish, posting a 7.24.

Not bad for somebody who does not concentrate on 60 meters, and whose strength in the 100 always has been over the second half of the race.

So the questions resurface: Are you going for five gold medals in Athens, Marion?

“There’s a possibility,” Jones told reporters in a news conference Wednesday. “It’s only a possibility.”

While Jones wowed the crowd at Millrose, it was Lake Braddock High School graduate Alan Johnson who gained the meet’s top performer award by dominating the men’s 60-meter hurdles with a meet record and world-leading 7.43.

Johnson took note of the fan support this year, which has been quite lacking for more than a decade.

“It was so great to see so many people in the stands — I hadn’t seen that in awhile,” he said. “The excitement out there was terrific. It was so great to walk into the stadium tonight and feel that buzz that track and field fans have. I just looked around the arena, soaked it in and thought, ‘This is where I belong, back among the people who really love this sport.’”

More track action — The second day of competition for the Historically Black College Invitational Track & Field Meet is scheduled today at Prince George’s Sports & Learning Center in Landover.

Track fans are in for a treat as Baltimore native Dameon Johnson headlines the Elite 1,600-meter meter relay. Johnson, a member of the world record-setting team at the 1999 World Indoor Championship in Maebashi, Japan, is focusing his efforts on making the U.S. Olympic team at the track and field trials in Sacramento, Calif., in July. His event is scheduled for 3:45p.m.

Bread basket to the world — The Chicago Marathon will offer the highest guaranteed first-place payout in the history of the sport, increasing its prize money to the male and female victors to $125,000.

The total guaranteed prize purse for the 2004 race rises to $650,000, which includes an increase in the American athlete bonus pool to $80,000.

Chicago has added more than $150,000 to the guaranteed purse the past two years. Nearly $1million, which included the guaranteed purse, special time bonuses, and the American incentive pool, was paid out to the top performers in 2003.

Like a fine wine — Not to be overlooked was the stellar marathon performance of Chuck Moeser at the Las Vegas Marathon on Jan.25. The 52-year-old Sterling, Va., resident placed third overall in 2:44:51.

Add weird ads — Anybody else out there find the Puma advertisement in Running Times a little strange? The ad shows a young man running at the top half of the page with the question “Why do you run?” On the bottom half of the page are two women holding each other with the answer, “My girlfriend got a girlfriend.”

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