Marion Jones Wins Long Jump

Monday, July 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The day belonged to three remarkable women.

Marion Jones won her second event of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials with the sweet poise that could make her the darling of the Sydney Games.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee fell short in her comeback attempt and bid a graceful farewell to the sport she dominated for so long.

And Marla Runyan completed her inspiring journey from disabled athlete to Olympian, the first legally blind competitor to earn a spot on any U.S. Olympic team.

``I think my vision is just a circumstance that happened, and I don't look at it as a barrier,'' Runyan said. ``I never said, `I want to be the first legally blind runner to make the Olympics.' I just wanted to be an Olympian.''

Despite a painful leg injury, with 20-300 vision in her right eye and 20-400 in her left, she finished third in the 1,500 meters Sunday, behind winner Regina Jacobs and runner-up Suzy Hamilton Favor.

``She was incredibly courageous,'' Jacobs said.

Jones added the long jump title to the 100 meters crown she won on Saturday, but not before flirting with disaster and nearly ruining her hopes of five gold medals in Sydney.

She fouled on her first two attempts. If she fouled again, or had a bad jump that left her in eighth place or lower among the 12 competitors, she would not advance to the finals. The long jump would belong to someone else.

``After the second jump, I turned around and saw the red flag,'' Jones said, ``And I said `OK, I've got one more, and if I don't get into it, this dream will be over.'''

She looked to the stands for encouragement from her coach Trevor Graham and husband C.J. Hunter, who made the Olympic team in the shot put on Saturday.

``As soon as I saw they believed in me, I had no problem,'' Jones said.

She was careful to take off far behind the starting board and made the finals comfortably at 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches. Then, on her fifth and next-to-last attempt of the day, she soared 23-0 1/2 , the fourth-best jump in the world this year.

``I've been waiting for that jump all year,'' Jones said. ``That it came at the Olympic trials is great. I'll be ready for Sydney.''

Joyner-Kersee faced the reality that her 38-year-old legs could not match those of a new generation of jumpers. Aiming to qualify for a fifth Olympics, Joyner-Kersee could manage only a distant sixth at 21-10 3/4 .

Six Olympic medals, more than any other female American athlete, three of them gold, will have to suffice.

``I thought that maybe I could put it together, but I can't be disappointed,'' Joyner-Kersee said. ``It was really a long shot. Not to take anything from any of the other jumpers. They jumped well, and they deserve to go. I deserve to go home and do what I was doing before I decided to come back out.''

Then she laughed, as she often does, and warned her husband-coach Bob Kersee that she would never compete again.

``Not even in the Masters,'' she said. ``I'm going to tell Bobby, `Don't even try that.''

Michael Johnson won the 400 meters with an effort that seemed routine, even though at 43.68 seconds it easily was the fastest in the world this year and just a half-second off his world record.

``I felt good the whole way. I worked the curve not as aggressively as I usually do, because I felt I had a comfortable lead,'' Johnson said. ``I wasn't trying to run any spectacular time today, I was just trying to win the race. There's no reason to take a risk at the Olympic trials.''

The bigger show comes next week, when Johnson faces rival Maurice Greene in the 200.

There had not been a jump-off to determine a U.S. Olympic berth since 1936, but it happened in two events Sunday — the women's high jump and men's pole vault.

Karol Damon and Erin Aldrich made the team by clearing 6-4, but Amy Acuff and three-time U.S. outdoor champion Tisha Waller tied for third. In a jump-off, Acuff claimed the final spot by clearing 6-3 1/4 .

In the pole vault, with American record holder Jeff Hartwig out of the competition after failing to clear a height in Friday's preliminaries, Lawrence Johnson won at 19-5 1/2 and Nick Hysong was second at 18-9 1/2 .

There was a three-way tie for third between Derek Miles, Pat Manson and Tye Harvey. Miles won the jump-off by clearing 18-5 1/2 .

Runyan's third-place finish overshadowed a stirring duel between Jacobs and Favor Hamilton. The two were elbow-to-elbow going into the final lap before the 37-year-old Jacobs, en route to her fourth Olympics, pulled away to win in 4:01.01, eight-tenths of a second ahead of Favor Hamilton. Runyan was third in 4:06.44.

In other events, surprising Latasha Colander-Richardson won the 400 meters in 49.87 seconds and Gabe Jennings led a 1-3 Stanford finish in the men's 1,500 with a victory in 3:35. College teammate Michael Stembler was third, with Jason Pyrah second.