Bad day for US, new dawn for China

The US suffered their worst day at Athens on Friday when a tearful Marion Jones flopped, their basketball "Dream Team" were humiliated.
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Published on Aug 28, 2004 11:10 AM IST
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PTI | ByJeremy Laurence (Reuters), Athens

The United States suffered their worst day of the Athens Olympics on Friday when a tearful Marion Jones flopped, their basketball "Dream Team" were humiliated and they captured only one of the 20 golds on offer.

But China, who had never won an Olympic gold in athletics, had a night to remember with Liu Xiang winning the men's 110 metres hurdles in a world record equalling 12.91 seconds.

"My victory has proved that athletes with yellow skin can run as fast as those with black and white skin," said Liu, 21.

"This is a miracle, but I believe a lot more miracles will take place in China," he said, as a new generation of his compatriots signalled they will be a force to be reckoned with on the track when Beijing hosts the next Olympics in 2008.

Xing Huina beat the Ethiopians at their own game to win the women's 10,000 in one of the biggest upsets of the athletics.

Only a giant leap by pole vaulter Tim Mack ensured the day did not end without the "Star Spangled Banner" being played at a medal ceremony and saved the Americans the ignominy of no golds on Day 14 of the Games.

Marion Jones, darling of the track in Sydney in 2000 with three gold medals and two bronzes, capped her worst year by finishing fifth in the long jump and was then embarrassingly at the centre of a botched relay hand over.

TEARFUL JONES

"I exceeded my wildest dreams in a negative sense. We were looking for great things to happen, they didn't happen today," said Jones, tears in her eyes.

"It's extremely disappointing, words can't put it into perspective."

Despite screaming "Wait, wait, stop" to the third runner on the team as she completed the second leg, Jones could not reach Lauryn Williams with the baton in the final of the 4x100 metres.

When she finally made contact on the fourth attempt it was too late for the Americans and Williams did not even attempt to catch up with the Jamaican runners who went on to win.

Earlier this year, the US Anti-Doping Agency investigated Jones when the BALCO laboratory in California was raided after the discovery of the new steroid THG (tetrahydrogestrinone).

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