Malachi Davis didn't think he had much chance of making it to Athens through the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Sacramento. Now, he may be running against his fellow Americans next month.
Two days after he gained a British passport and flew into Britain for the first time, Davis yesterday ran the third-best time in 400-meter qualifying and advanced to the final at the British Olympic track trials in Manchester.
If Davis finishes in the top three, he'll be off to the Olympics.
"It's been a hectic week," Davis said. "I received my British passport on Thursday and then jumped on a flight at 6 p.m. I only arrived here at 8 p.m. yesterday, so my body is still adjusting, but I felt okay out there. I just hope I can get over my jet lag in time for the final.
"This is my first time in England. In fact, I only left America for the first time a couple of weeks ago, when I raced in Vancouver."
On July 1, he ran at the Harry Jerome International Track Classic in Burnaby, B.C., for the United States, and finished second in the 400. He met the U.S. Olympic A standard of 45.55 seconds.
Jamie Baulch, a former world indoor champion, said several athletes were unhappy that Davis, who has an English mother, was allowed to run in the trials.
"I know a lot of athletes are very bitter and they say he shouldn't be here," said the Welshman, also a competitor in the 400. "I am not really bitter, however, because I think it helps make the British team stronger for the Olympics."
Davis, whose mother, Eva Gordon, left London for the United States 25 years ago, said he understood their concerns.
"Yes, I may deprive someone of an Olympic place but emotions are always high in an Olympic year," he said. "It's all down to the best athletes to qualify, and I do have a lot of respect for the one-lap runners in the U.K."
Davis, who has a psychology degree from the University of California and runs for the Bush Track Club, said the suggestion to run for Britain came from close friend Felix Sanchez, the world 400 hurdles champion who was born in America but runs for the Dominican Republic.
"I barely qualified for the U.S. trials and was only made aware of the possibility of running for Britain when Felix said I'd be better off running for this country," Davis said. "I started researching dual citizenship a month-and-a-half ago.
"Every athlete envisages competing at the highest level, and everyone back home is behind me 100 percent."
U.S. Women Fall in Volleyball
The United States dropped the final two sets in losing to Olympic champion Cuba, 23-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-22, 15-13, in the World Grand Prix women's volleyball tournament in Bangkok. . . .
Australian swimmer Leisel Jones set a 200-meter breaststroke world record of 2 minutes 22.96 seconds at a grand prix meet in Brisbane. The previous record of 2:22.99 was set by Qi Hui of China in August 2001 and equaled by American Amanda Beard last July. . . .
Olympic 800-meter champion Nils Schumann, who had two Achilles' tendon operations eight months ago, will not defend his title in Athens.