SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Can we have a do-over?
The U.S. Olympic track and field trials and tribulations are finished, and not a split-second on the electronic timing system too soon. It might have been a nice meet for Marion Jones, who won each of the three events in which she was entered, and Stacy Dragila, who improved her own women's pole vault world record, but for USA Track and Field, it was eight sweltering days of brutal attrition, with nearly one Olympic medal contender a day dropping off the roster.
Suffice it to say, Team USA's Olympic medal hopes appeared much healthier before the trials than what we saw limping out of them.
A look at the survivors in the major events and assessing their hopes:
100 METERS: If he's fit, Greene, the world-record holder, will be the favorite in Sydney -- although if he stumbles out of the blocks like he did at the trials, training partner Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago could beat him to the top step of the medals podium. Jon Drummond already has been seeded onto the Sydney Olympics all-interview team. Curtis Johnson will do well to reach the semifinals.
200 METERS: Goodbye Michael, goodbye Maurice, goodbye gold and silver medals. And hello Ato -- with the cramping of two powerful hamstrings Sunday, Boldon, the 1997 world champion, suddenly became the odds-on Olympic favorite. John Capel's trials-winning time of 19.85 second is faster than Greene's 1999 world championship time of 19.90, but Capel is a rookie when it comes to major meets at the international stage.
Johnson says he is now focusing on lowering his world record in the 400 beneath 43 seconds because "that's all I've got left." Antonio Pettigrew, the 1991 world champion, is 0-for-3 in qualifying for the Olympic final, staring at his last chance to break through.
800 METERS: No Olympic medals, it would seem, from this lot. Mark Everett's winning time Sunday -- 1 minute 45.67 seconds -- was the slowest at the U.S. trials since 1968. Johnny Gray retired 2 1/2 races too early.
1,500 METERS: The 1,500 is the personal dominion of Moroccan middle-distance legend Hicham El Guerrouj; Gabe Jennings and Jason Pyrah are just passing through.
No need getting nasty about the no-hope Americans, let's just turn it over to Pascal Dobert. "Steeplechasing around the world is basically divided into two groups: The Kenyans and everybody else," Dobert says. "And we're not really gaining ground on the Kenyans because they're so far ahead of everybody else."
5,000 METERS: With or without the presence of Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie, who may decide to concentrate solely on the 10K, the best the U.S. can hope for here is a spot in the final.
10,000 METERS: It will be Gebrselassie, followed by a fleet of Africans. Mebrahtom Keflezighi hails from the same continent -- he was born in Eritrea -- but he is well off the pace of the first echelon. He won the trials with a time of 28 minutes 3.32 seconds -- 45 seconds slower than the 2000 world best.
110-METER HURDLES: Mark Crear, ranked No. 1 or 2 in the world every year since 1995, and Allen Johnson, the 1996 Olympic champion, could finish 1-2 in Sydney. Great Britain's Colin Jackson, No. 2 in the world in 1999, has been less than impressive so far in 2000.
400-METER HURDLES: Another U.S. medal, maybe two. Angelo Taylor was ranked No. 2 in the world in 1999, Eric Thomas is the 2000 world leader with a time of 47.94 seconds.
HIGH JUMP: Javier Sotomayor's drug suspension opens a spot on the Sydney medals podium. Austin, the 1999 Olympic champion who jumped 7 feet 7 1/4 inches to win the trials, probably needs another inch to ensure a medal.
Hartwig's failure at the trials knocked the 2000 world leader out of the Games, but Lawrence Johnson owns the year's second-best mark in the world -- 19 feet 4 1/4 inches. The 1997 world champion, Johnson was the only man to clear 19 feet at the trials.
LONG JUMP: Where have you gone, Carl Lewis, Mike Powell, Bob Beamon, Ralph Boston, Jesse Owens and Larry Myricks? In the United States, the long jump isn't so long anymore, with Melvin Lister's trials-winning leap of 26 feet 11 inches being the shortest since 1980. How bad is the current state of the sport? Owens' gold-medal jump of 26-5 1/2 at the 1936 Olympics -- 64 years ago! -- would have taken third place at this year's trials.
TRIPLE JUMP: Robert Howard's crazed post-long jump rant, claiming he was robbed of an Olympic berth by a judge's mismark, easily was the highlight of the men's long jump competition at the trials. "If I don't make the Olympic team, I have to go to med school!" Howard raged. Then, Sunday, Howard went out and jumped 55 feet 9 inches in the triple jump final. Good news: Med school can wait. Bad news: With that distance, so can any medals in Sydney.
SHOT PUT: After the top three finishers all posted personal bests at the trials, America's shot-putting elite were talking sweep in Sydney. Well, OK, not C.J. Hunter. "When I get to Sydney, all I'm thinking about is me," grunted Hunter, typically effervescent. "It could happen. I don't know. So what?" Still, even Hunter had to admit, three throwers going over 70 feet in Sacramento was something. "These performances," Hunter said, "scare the hell out of everybody in Europe, that's for sure."
DISCUS: Anthony Washington, the 1999 world champion, slumped to third at the trials with a best effort of 219 feet 7 inches -- well off the 2000 world best of Lithuania's Virgilijus Alekna (230-11).
HAMMER: Finally, after eight national outdoor titles and a 1996 Olympic silver medal, Lance Deal is going to put the hammer down after the Sydney Olympics. Another medal as a retirement gift might be pushing it -- Deal's 2000 best (262 feet 11 inches) is more than seven inches shy of the world lead.
JAVELIN: Breaux Greer had the Olympic "B" standard, but not the "A." Tomas Pukstys has the "A" standard, but he finished behind Greer at the trials.
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