Christian Cantwell, the world leader in the shot put, can't remember performing so poorly at such an inopportune time. In the U.S. Olympic trials final Saturday, Cantwell fouled five times, executed only one legal throw, and fell just short of making the Olympic team.
Cantwell, who would have been the gold medal favorite had he finished in one of the top three spots, repeatedly fouled by stepping out of the ring, a problem, he said, he hasn't had in years. His only allowed attempt was just 67 feet 51/2 inches, well below his season-best of 73-111/2.
His surprising off-night allowed Adam Nelson (71 feet), Reese Hoffa (69-41/4) and John Godina (69-2) to claim the three available Olympic team spots.
"I picked a bad day to have a bad day," said Cantwell, who had surpassed 73 feet three times this season. "I don't really know what happened. With every throw, I felt like I was dancing around, like I had never been in the ring before."
Even without Cantwell in the mix, the United States still has hopes of sweeping the medals at the shot put competition in Athens. The top four at these trials hold the top 13 throws in the world this season.
"It's a shock that Christian didn't throw better," Nelson said. "He's a tremendous athlete whose thrown consistently all year long. He's certainly the most powerful guy in the sport right now."
Tim Montgomery might have a difficult time making the final of Sunday's 100, a distressing state of affairs for the world record holder in the event.
Montgomery, one of four athletes facing lifetime bans for alleged drug violations, advanced to Sunday's semifinals in the 100 with unimpressive finishes in today's preliminaries and quarterfinals. The father of Marion Jones's infant son, Montgomery finished third in his preliminary heat in 10.21 seconds and fourth in his quarterfinal in 10.16 seconds.
Shawn Crawford posted the best time in the quarterfinals, finishing in 10 seconds flat. Justin Gatlin won his heat in 10.03; John Capel won his in 10.01 and Maurice Greene, who complained that he was having trouble with his start, won the other in 10.06.
Williams Wants Drug-Free Relays
Men's U.S. Olympic coach George Williams hinted that athletes with pending drug charges would not be selected to run on the U.S. Olympic relay teams for fear they would contaminate the team's results if later convicted of drug charges.
Williams repeatedly declined to answer the question directly but said during a news conference, "I promise you, we will not leave any medals over there [in Athens], and we will not send any back."
U.S. women's coach Sue Humphreys said she and Williams had taken note that the United States' men's 4x400 relay gold medal from the 2000 Summer Games had been called into question because Jerome Young, who two weeks ago was found guilty of a drug violation in 1999, was retroactively disqualified from the team.
Collins Coaching Update
Williams acknowledged that he had not ended his coaching relationship with Michelle Collins, who along with Chryste Gaines, Montgomery and Alvin Harrison is facing a lifetime ban from USADA. Williams, however, said he had no knowledge of drug use on Collins's part and had not asked her about the charges against her. He also said he hadn't worked with her in the last couple of weeks. . . .
Shelia Burrell, the reigning world bronze medal winner, finished first in the heptathlon with 6,194 points, topping Tiffany Lott-Hogan (6159) and Michelle Perry (6126).