SACRAMENTO (California): Was she hurting or was she taking it easy? Only Marion Jones knows for sure, and she's not talking.
Jones returned to the track a night after her emotional victory in the long jump at the US Olympic trials, and looked downright ordinary in the 200m.
Jones faded to last in her five-woman qualifying heat on Friday night, slowing to nearly a trot on the final straightaway. But she still easily advanced to the semi-finals, because only one of the 19 women in the quarter-finals was eliminated.
It was unclear whether Jones, the reigning Olympic champion in the 200m, was struggling in the final metres of the race or whether she knew she could qualify without much effort. She declined to talk with reporters after the race.
The fastest time in the quarter-finals was 22.60 by Torri Edwards, who placed second in the 100m last weekend. But Edwards' chances of going to the Athens Olympics depend on the results of an arbitration hearing in a drug case.
In the women's 200m, there were six no-shows. LaTasha Colander, the trials' 100m champion, and Chryste Gaines, who has been charged with steroid use and faces a lifetime ban if found guilty, were among those who withdrew.
So Jones began her heat the last of four knowing she could take it easy and still advance to the semi-finals.
The latest was a report Friday on the Chicago Tribune's and Washington Post's websites that sprinter Mickey Grimes had a positive result for a steroid in an out-of-competition test this year. Grimes won his qualifying heat in the 200m in 20.39, then left the track without talking to reporters. AP