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Sydney 2000 - Key Moments

Marion thinking big

American sprint queen Marion Jones made it into the Sydney Olympics record books with an astounding haul of five medals, three of which were gold, but some would say Jones' performance in Australia fell short of what might have been expected of her.

Jones had arrived at the Games with the self-declared target of bettering historic medal hauls from compatriots Jesse Owens (Berlin 1936) and Carl Lewis (Los Angeles 1984), who had both managed to win gold in the same four events at a single Olympics.

Jones was targeting the same four, the 100, 200, long jump and 4x100 relay, but was also competing in the 4x400 relay.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, her campaign got off to a flying start in the 100 meters as she clocked 10.75 to grab a first gold with the field trailing yards behind.

The next morning, however, it was revealed that Jones' husband, shot-putter C.J. Hunter, also competing at Sydney, had returned a positive doping test.

Observers watched closely to see what her reaction would be to Hunter's downfall. Would she be able to buckle down, or would she crumble?

The former basketballer exploded toward her second gold four days after the media frenzy over her husband by registering 21.84 in the 200, once more leaving competitors simply trailing in her wake.

These two victories had been widely anticipated, but the third part of her five-star target was the long jump, a discipline where she was less sure of herself.

Despite her speed on the runway, her launch often was tainted by hesitation.

Something to tell the grandchildren

A glance at Jones' long jump performances in the 2000 season suggested that a third gold was far from a sure thing.

Her main rivals, Italy's Fiona May and Russia's Tatyana Kotova, had that year registered jumps of 7 meters, 9 centimeters and 7m4 respectively.

But on the big day, German veteran Heike Drechsler was the surprise winner with an effort of 6m99. Jones came in third with a best of 6m92 behind May, who won silver.

Jones was dignified in defeat and handed Drechsler a compliment, saying: "I can tell my grandchildren that I went up against one of the greatest long jumpers of all time."

After that "disappointment," the last two legs of her five-event challenge -- the 4x100 and 4x400, both scheduled for Sept. 30 -- had lost a little of their spice, though victory in both would have seen Jones equal the feat of Owens and Lewis.

In the 4x100 relay, a disastrous baton exchanges saw the U.S. relegated to bronze behind the Bahamas and Jamaica.

But later that day, the U.S. won the 4x400 with Jones running third to propel her team toward victory and a rare haul of five athletics medals.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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