Friday, August 20, 2004
Crawford among track's leading faces
By Jim Caple ESPN.com
ATHENS, Greece -- Tim Montgomery isn't here. And Marion Jones' only individual event is the long jump. And there are so many rumors of steroid abuse that BALCO may be presenting the medals.
Shawn Crawford will be running for gold in both the 100 and 200.
But that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of faces to keep your eyes on during the track and field competition:
1. Shawn Crawford, U.S.: He's the runner who beat the giraffe but lost to the
zebra in Fox's "Man vs. Beast" show. The guy who raced in a "Phantom of the
Opera" mask. The guy who once false-started in a race just to see what it was
like (it was bad -- he then false-started for real and was eliminated). And
he just may win the 100 and 200 meters. As long as no zebras are there.
2. Lauryn Williams, U.S.: The NCAA champion, Williams gave up her final year
of eligibility at the University of Miami to go pro, citing financial
reasons. She runs with an unorthodox leaning style. A brash and outgoing
personality, she finished third in the 100 meters at U.S. trials, with an 11.10, edging out Gail Devers and Marion Jones.
3. Maurice Greene, U.S.: The defending Olympic champion in the 100 meters and
holder of four of the five fastest times in history, Greene lost a tuneup
race in Paris last month but shrugged it off due to jet lag. He is looking
to become just the second man to win consecutive golds in the 100 meters. Carl Lewis was the first.
4. Allyson Felix, U.S.: At 18, Felix is the youngest member of the track and
field team. She won the 200 meters at the U.S. trials with a 22:28, but ran an
unofficial 22.11 at a meet in Mexico City last year, a faster time than any
at the Olympics since 1976. She opted for a pro career over college.
5. Tom Pappas, U.S.: Despite his blonde hair, Pappas is the great-grandson of
a Greek who emigrated to America from Athens. He won the world championships
last year, and if he can bring home the gold as the world's greatest athlete,
they may have to double Ouzo production for the celebrations.
6. LaTasha Colander, U.S.: Colander, whose birthday is Monday, anchored the
gold-medal winning 1,600-meter relay team in Sydney. Formerly a champion hurdler,
Colander switched her focus once again to the 100, where she placed first at
the Olympic trials in 10.97, tying a record set by Lauryn Williams in June.
She has more experience in the 200 meters, where she will also race.
7. Hicham El Guerrouj, Morocco: The prince of middle distance, El Guerrouj
has rarely lost in the past eight years. Unfortunately, two of those losses
were in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Expectations were so high for him in
Sydney and so much national pressure was placed on him, that after he faded
at the end to lose, Guerrouj says he became "morally depressed." He nearly
stopped running but continued so that he could take another crack at the
8. Amy Acuff, U.S.: She's in danger of becoming track and field's Anna
Kournikova. A three-time Olympian in the high jump, she has yet to medal, but
she has posed for Playboy.
9. Alan Webb, U.S.: Webb became American distance running's great hope before
his senior prom when he broke Jim Ryun's U.S. record by racing the mile in
3:53.43. He was such a big name that the University of Michigan began charging admission to his events. But his Olympics are over after one race. Webb finished ninth in his 1,500 heat Friday night. While he failed to fulfill the enormous expectations, he's not alone. No American has medaled in the 1,500 since Ryun in 1968 at Tokyo.
10. Gail Devers, U.S.: She's been part of the Olympics since before Jim
McKay's hair turned gray. This is her fifth Olympics, but she still has not
won gold in the 100 hurdles, the event she has dominated for more than a decade. Be sure and
say good-bye when she competes because at 37, she'll probably cross the
finish line and run off into the sunset.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.