It took U.S. long jumper Dwight Phillips, the reigning world champion, one jump and a long wait to secure a personally satisfying gold medal and a nationally redemptive one.
It took five jumps and plenty of tension for NCAA champion John Moffitt to join the party, claiming a surprising silver medal that cemented a U.S. resurgence in an event it has historically owned in the Olympics.
Four years after the United States failed to medal in the event in Sydney, Phillips, 26, won the event with the best jump since the 1992 Summer Games, 28 feet 21/2 inches. Moffitt, a recent LSU graduate, jumped a personal-best 27-91/2.
"I'm so delighted," said Phillips, who at 14 broke both of his legs in a motorcycle accident. "It's been a lifetime dream of mine to win a medal for the United States."
Phillips scored the winning jump on his first attempt, then fouled on his next two jumps as he went futilely after the world record. On his third attempt, he turned his ankle, forcing him to skip his fourth and fifth attempts.
"I really wanted to pressure everybody early," he said. "I knew if I pressured everybody early, it would be hard for me to be defeated. I was very confident going into the competition. I had not lost a meet all season, and I definitely did not want to start here."
Sanchez Hurdles to Victory
Americans swept every gold medal awarded in track and field Thursday night. Sort of. New York native and University of Southern California graduate Felix Sanchez won the first gold medal in Olympic history for the Dominican Republic in the 400-meter hurdles.
Sanchez, whose parents were born in the island nation, decided to compete for the Dominican Republic five years ago. After a disappointing performance at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney (he advanced only to the semifinals), he has been virtually unbeatable. He hasn't lost a race since July 2, 2001.
Thursday night, he finished in 47.63 seconds, easily topping Jamaica's Danny McFarlane (48.11) and France's Naman Keita (48.26). American James Carter finished fourth in 48.58.
After the race, he vowed to never again wear the flashing bracelet he had brought home from the Sydney Games to remind him of his failure there.
"It is just brilliant after all the hard work over the last four years," he said. "It's so great to finally achieve that goal. . . . I just knew in my mind, I never wanted to feel how I felt in Sydney."
Jones Leads 4x100 Charge
With Marion Jones running the second leg, the U.S. women's 4x100 relay team flew to an impressive victory in the semifinals of the event, finishing just .07 of a second off the Olympic record.
Angela Williams, 24; Jones, 28; Lauryn Williams, 20; and LaTasha Colander, 27, finished in 41.67 seconds, ahead of the Bahamas (43.02) and Belgium (43.08).
"This team is a lot different than four years ago," said Jones, referring to a team of veteran sprinters that won only a bronze medal. "They're young, they're fresh, they're excited. . . . I'm normally cool, calm and collected. I find myself doing jokes and going along with all of the antics. . . . I'm only 28, and I feel like an old lady." . . .
In Friday's relays, John Capel, Darvis Patton, Coby Miller and Maurice Greene will run the first round of the 4x100 for the United States, with Justin Gatlin and Shawn Crawford likely bumping Capel and Patton for the final, a USA Track and Field spokesperson said. In the men's 4x400, Kelly Willie, Derrick Brew, Andrew Rock and Darold Williamson will run with Jeremy Wariner and Otis Harris likely to substitute for Willie and Rock in the final.
The women's 4x400 team will not include Marion Jones, even though she ran the event in Sydney in 2000. . . .
American Breaux Greer kept things simple in the qualifying round of the javelin Thursday, heaving the top throw of the night (286 feet 3 inches) on his first attempt. Greer, 12th at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, entered this competition with the third-best throw in the world this year. . . .
France's Ladji Doucoure, 21, the 1999 world youth champion in the event, posted the fastest qualifying time in the men's 110-meter hurdles (13.06), topping U.S. hurdler Terrence Trammell (13.17). Defending Olympic champion Anier Garcia finished behind Doucoure and Trammell in 13.30, which was tied for seventh overall with American Duane Ross. Ross, though, fell victim to a fast qualifying heat. Though Garcia moved onto the final, Ross did not because he finished fifth in his heat.
The field also lacked District native Allen Johnson, who fell in Wednesday's second round.