Marion Jones advanced into the final of the women's long jump Monday night in the qualifying round of the U.S. Olympic trials at Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex, but not before enduring a nerve-wracking adventure for the second time in three days.
Jones failed to make the relatively easy automatic qualifying distance of 21 feet in three attempts, but advanced to Thursday's final because she finished seventh overall. The top 12 women moved on. Five women made the qualifying distance on their first attempts.
Jones's best jump of the night was just 20 feet 113/4 inches, more than a foot less than what she jumped as a high school senior 11 years ago. Her jumps got progressively worse: On her second attempt, she jumped 20-93/4. On her third, she jumped 20-81/2.
Jones rushed off the field before ascertaining whether she had qualified. She did not speak to reporters.
Jones needs a top three finish to secure an Olympic team spot in the event. She could, however, still qualify for the team even if she finishes out of the top three should the top finishers not achieve the Olympic qualifying standard. Only she and Grace Upshaw have earned the standard.
On the one hand, Monday night's struggles were surprising for Jones, who three times jumped over 22 feet this season. On the other hand, Jones is coming off of a devastating defeat in the 100 final Saturday. In that event, she finished fifth, failing to make the Olympic team in an event in which she won a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Games.
Jones won five medals at those Games, including a bronze in the long jump.
Jones is also entered in this weekend's 200, but considering her result Saturday, and the fact she finished fourth in the only 200 in which she competed this year, she is no longer considered a favorite, let alone a lock, in that event.
Jones has said repeatedly leading up to the trials that she has made huge strides in the long jump under new coach Dan Pfaff, whom she began working with about a year ago. Jones, who gave birth to her first son in June 2003, did not compete last year.
Meantime, halfway through the U.S. Olympic trials in track and field, three of the six athletes accused of drug violations had been eliminated from Olympic consideration, with two more falling out by night's end Monday.
Michelle Collins, the American leader in the 400, suffered a hamstring injury on Saturday and withdrew from Monday's 400 preliminaries. Alvin Harrison, who like Collins is facing a lifetime ban from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, failed to advance in his 400 semifinal, fading fast in the homestretch and finishing seventh in 45.85 seconds.
It was a disappointing result for the 2000 Olympic silver medalist in the event.
On Sunday, Tim Montgomery, the world record holder in the 100, finished seventh in the 100 final, also missing a shot to compete in Athens. Still alive are Chryste Gaines, Calvin Harrison and Regina Jacobs.
Calvin Harrison, Alvin's twin, was the only accused athlete to advance tonight. He finished third in 44.98 in a 400 semifinal in which reigning world silver medalist Tyree Washington failed to advance. The top four moved on to the 400 final. Calvin Harrison faces a two-year ban for a positive test for the stimulant modafinil.
In the women's 5,000, Shayne Culpepper earned the right to hang out with her husband, Alan Culpepper, in the Olympic Village at this year's Summer Games. Culpepper won the race in stirring fashion, overtaking Marla Runyan with a furious sprint at the finish. Culpepper, who also qualified for the 2000 Games, finished in 15 minutes 7.41 seconds. Runyan crossed the line in 15:07.48.
Alan Culpepper qualified for the Olympics in the marathon.
In other news, it was not a bad night's work for 37-year-old Jearl Miles-Clark. She not only qualified for her fifth trip to the Olympic Games, but she did it in style, and in a way she never had previously: by finishing first.
With a youthful sprint at the finish of the women's 800 final, Miles-Clark, who competed in her first Olympic trials 16 years ago, effortlessly outran Nicole Teter, a three-time national champion in the event, and her sister-in-law, Hazel Clark, the 2000 Olympic trials champion, over the last 200 meters, for the winning time of 1:59.06.
Teter finished in 2:00.25; Clark in 2:00.37.
In an upset, David Krummenacker finished fourth in the men's 800 final, just missing what would have been his first Olympic team spot. Krummenacker, who has battled injuries over the last year, had the best resume of any athlete in the field, but he seemed unable to come up with any sort of kick in a race in which third-place finisher Derrick Peterson surged over the last 50 meters.
Jonathan Johnson, the NCAA champ in the 800 from Texas Tech, finished first in 1:44.77.