The Olympics: Thursday

Marion Jones wins gold No. 2 as the Williams sisters, an unknown Greek and Norwegian soccer players clean up. NBC, meanwhile, sinks to new lows.

By Kerry Lauerman
September 28, 2000 5:18PM (UTC)
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Marion Jones destroyed the field in winning the 200 meters Thursday in 21.84 seconds, nearly half a second in front of the silver medalist, Pauline Davis-Thompson of the Bahamas (22.27). Jones' anticipated showdown with Australian heroine Cathy Freeman was anticlimactic, with Freeman finishing seventh. Bronze medalist Susanthika Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka, meanwhile, is fresh off a short ban from the sport, having tested positive two years ago for the steriod nandrolone, the same drug that Jones' husband, shot-putter C.J. Hunter, is accused of having tested positive for on four separate occasions this summer.

Jones competes in the long jump Friday and in two relays on Saturday. Her chances in the 4-by-100-meter relay looked slightly stronger when U.S. rival Inger Miller, who had pulled out of the 100- and 200-meter sprints during the Games with an injury, announced plans to run in the relay. Still, the United States is expected to be pushed heavily by both Bahamas and Jamaica, whose team includes Merlene Ottey. Ottey, 40, known as the "Lion Queen" in her country, is competing in her sixth Olympics and has seven Olympic medals, but no gold, always finishing behind American greats such as Evelyn Ashford, Florence Griffith-Joyner and Gail Devers. Ottey -- also fresh off a two-year suspension after testing positive for nandrolone -- finished fourth in the 100 meters, well behind Jones, and announced that she will retire after the Sydney Games.


Greek shocks in 200
Underrated sprinter Konstantinos Kenteris won the men's 200 meters Thursday, holding off Britain's Darren Campbell and favored Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago in a middling time of 20.09. The U.S. runners finished in seventh and eighth place, the first shutout for the Americans in the race in 72 years. The Americans were hobbled without either defending world champion Maurice Greene (who won the 100 meters) or defending Olympic champ Michael Johnson, who set a world record of 19.32 in winning the gold medal in 1996.

This time, Brandi Chastain kept her shirt on
The U.S. women's soccer team couldn't match the wild success of its World Cup victory, losing in overtime to the Norwegians 3-2.

Government to Freeman: Congrats! Now go away
Despite her emotional victory in the 400 meters, Freeman, an Australian Aborigine, still hasn't swayed government officials into apologizing for the "stolen generation" of about 100,000 Aboriginal children, including Freeman's grandmother, who were placed in the care of white families after officials declared it the humane way. "I don't think it changes the issues at all," Reconciliation Minister Philip Ruddock told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "But the point I would make is that Cathy is a great example to other young people about what can be done, what can be achieved, and is an outstanding role model for all Australians, but particularly for indigenous Australians."


And you thought Amy Van Dyken was a bad sport
Then Freeman had to endure the overseas taunts of French sprinter/possible-lunatic Marie-Jose Perec, the Freeman rival who fled Australia before her race because, she claimed, she had been stalked and harassed while in Australia. Now Perec tells French sports daily L'Equipe, "I will never set foot [in Australia] again," saying -- in a refreshing change of pace from the endless copy about those affable Australians -- "People made threatening gestures and started following me ... I was really frightened." Perec, who has raced only once in the past three years, and not at all this year, said that she would have beaten Freeman and successfully defended her Olympic 400-meter crown. "Everything we have had as results in training proves it," she said. Of course, Perec trains in seclusion, so who knows?

Pixie bites the dust
Tiny Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan lost an appeal to keep the all-around gold medal that the International Olympic Committee took from her after she tested positive for a banned substance she had ingested while taking an over-the-counter cold medicine. "In my heart, I am convinced that I have done nothing wrong," she said at a news conference. Romanian Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu scored some major points back home -- where the Raducan saga has caused riots in the streets -- by promising to still pay her the $28,000 in prize money given to Romanians who bring back gold.

Williamses rule
Venus and Serena Williams teamed up Thursday to win the gold medal in women's doubles in tennis, destroying the Dutch team 6-1, 6-1. It was Venus Williams' second gold; she won the singles gold on Wednesday, while teammate Monica Seles took home the bronze. On the men's side, Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov beat Tommy Haas of Germany 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Canadian pair Daniel Nestor and Sebastien Lareau took home the men's doubles crown. While the U.S. women dominated tennis, the U.S. men all exited early.


Viewers give NBC the brown eye
NBC's Olympics ratings tumbled further this week, according to Nielsen ratings. NBC's coverage Tuesday scored the worst rating for Summer Games competition in at least 16 years. The taped telecast, which included the gymnastics champions' gala, diving and a U.S. gold-medal victory in beach volleyball, drew a 12.4 rating and 21 share. That's 23 percent below what advertisers were told to expect, and even further off the 17.5 to 18.5 rating NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol had predicted. The cumulative ratings so far are 36 percent lower than those for the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Chinese diver Fu Mingxia won the springboard event as China continued to dominate the sport. Fu joins Americans Greg Louganis and Pat McCormick as the only divers to win four gold medals ... Three-time world champion Ivan Pedroso won the long jump ... American Chris Huffins had a commanding lead with three events left in the decathlon ... Australian race walker Jane Saville was disqualified while she was in the lead and just a few hundred meters from the finish line in the women's 20K walk. Saville was called for "lifting" -- when a walker looses constant contact with the pavement. "I was bitterly disappointed. It was so embarrassing, all the people waiting for me. I turned and ran away from the stadium."

Kerry Lauerman

Kerry Lauerman is Salon's Editor in Chief. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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