Jones takes giant step to Athens with short jump

SACRAMENTO: Marion Jones took a big step towards the Athens Olympics by making a relatively short leap. 

The five-time Olympic medallist finished seventh here on Monday in qualifying for tomorrow's long jump finals at the United States Olympic Athletics Trials, her longest leap of 6.39m well off her 2004 American best of 6.93m last month. 

Jones failed to earn a chance at defending her Olympic 100m crown in Athens by finishing fifth in last Saturday's 100m final but she stands a good chance of making the US Olympic team no matter how she fares in Thursday's long jump. 

Jones, 28, and Grace Upshaw are the only Americans who meet the Olympic “A” standard in the event so far, giving them the inside track to Athens unless their rivals have the leaps of their lives in the final. 

The longest of Jones' three jumps was her first, well behind the 6.63m of preliminary winner Ola Sesay. Jones, who also leaped 6.34m and 6.31m, departed without comment to reporters. 

Jones, who also won the 200m gold at Sydney but settled for bronze in the long jump, won the trials here four years ago with a 7.02m leap. Her personal best, 7.31m, came in 1998. 

Alvin Harrison became the third of six athletes competing here while fighting drug charges to fail in their bid for Athens. He finished seventh in his 400m semi-final heat in 45.85 seconds. 

Calvin Harrison, Alvin's brother who also faces charges, reached the 400m final by finishing third in his heat in 44.98. He joins 1,500m runner Regina Jacobs and sprinter Chryste Gaines as charged runners with Athens hope. 

Calvin Harrison is fighting a two-year ban after a positive test for modafinil. Alvin Harrison is fighting a possible lifetime ban based on evidence gathered by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) rather than a positive test. 

Tim Montgomery, world 100m record-holder and father of Jones' one-year-old son, failed to reach Athens by finishing seventh in the 100m final on Sunday. He also faces a lifetime ban based on evidence in the BALCO steroid case. 

Michelle Collins, who like Montgomery has appealed her doping case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), withdrew on Sunday from the 400m, citing a pulled hamstring. 

David Krummenacker, the 2003 World Indoor 800m champion, missed out on Athens by finishing fourth in the 800m final.  

Marla Runyan, the first legally blind athlete to run in the Olympics, earned an Athens trip by finishing second in the women's 5,000m final in 15:07.48, .07 behind winner Shayne Culpepper. Runyan was eighth at the Sydney Games. – AFP 

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