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Original Issue


For one American sprinter it was the street swagger that melted
away, and for the other it was the uncommon composure of an
ingenue turned queen that finally cracked. Of course, Maurice
Greene and Marion Jones cried when they were finished, when the
world championships were theirs, when the cork was at last
popped from their bottled emotions.

For the 23-year-old Greene the moment came on Sunday night in
the belly of Olympic Stadium in Athens, long after he had won
the men's 100 meters at the World Championships. Greene had been
a rock through two days and four rounds of brutal running,
holding his youthful nerves together while battling on equal
psychological terms with defending world and Olympic 100-meter
champion Donovan Bailey of Canada, a master of the sprinter's
mind game. Ultimately Greene beat Bailey to the gold medal in
9.86 seconds, equaling the third-fastest time in history.
Earlier this year Greene had promised, with scant credentials,
to restore U.S. sprinting to its rightful place in the world
order, and he had promised further to break Bailey's world
record of 9.84 (he nearly did it). He talked and walked.

Now, however, in the hallway outside an interview room, Greene
fell into the arms of his father, Ernest, who had flown in two
days earlier from Kansas City, Kans., through Memphis and
Amsterdam to Athens (a frequent-flier jackpot), to watch the
youngest of his and his wife Jackie's four children run on the
grandest stage shy of the Olympics. Late last September, Ernest
and Jackie had driven with their son from Kansas City to Los
Angeles and delivered him to the doorstep of sprint coach John
Smith, who would mastermind Maurice's swift transformation from
the world's 24th-ranked 100-meter runner to its fastest.
Remembering that trip, Maurice held his father tightly and
sobbed until he let go and slumped into a nearby chair. As Smith
stroked the back of his protege's head, Greene shed tears that
fell on the concrete floor, and he repeated again and again, "I
worked so hard, I worked so hard...."

For Jones, just 21, the cool veneer of a champion with many more
medals in her future was peeled back ever so slightly when she
walked off the track moments after she had won the women's 100
meters in 10.83 seconds. Her time was the best in the world this
year and just .01 of a second slower than the lifetime bests of
fellow Americans Gail Devers and Gwen Torrence, her predecessors
as world champions in 1993 and '95, respectively. (Suffering
from injuries, neither ran the 100 in Athens.) In the tunnel
leading from the track, Jones found her fiance, U.S. shot-putter
C.J. Hunter. "She started crying right away," said Hunter. "It
was quick, though. It's Marion--she even cries fast."

Together, and scarcely 20 minutes apart, Greene and Jones became
the first man and woman from the U.S. to cross the finish line
first in the 100 at a fully loaded international championship
meet since Jim Hines and Wyomia Tyus at the 1968 Olympics in
Mexico City. (Carl Lewis and Evelyn Ashford swept at the '84 Los
Angeles Olympics but without Eastern bloc countries present;
Lewis and Florence Griffith Joyner swept the golds at the '88
Seoul Games, but only after the drug disqualification of
Canada's Ben Johnson, who crossed the finish line ahead of Lewis.)

While Devers and Torrence built a bridge from Flo-Jo to Jones,
the decline of U.S. men's sprinting has been a front-burner
topic in track since the early '90s. Greene's gold in Athens was
the first for an American male in a major-championship 100 since
Lewis won the 1991 Worlds in Tokyo. Behind Greene and Bailey
(9.91), Tim Montgomery of the U.S. took the bronze medal in
9.94, beating two-time Olympic 100-meter silver medalist Frank
Fredericks of Namibia and adding even more historical weight to
the evening.

That Greene may now claim the fragile title of World's Fastest
Human was unthinkable barely a year ago, when, hampered by a
pulled hamstring, he flamed out in the second round of the
Olympic trials. He signed on with Smith, who is known for
developing young sprinters, and has since melded smoothly into
Smith's HSI, the club that also includes Sunday's prerace
favorite, Ato Boldon of Trinidad, and U.S. 200-meter champion
Jon Drummond. Greene announced himself formally when he won the
national 100 championship at Indianapolis in June, running 9.90,
or .18 of a second faster than his previous best. At dinner that
night Boldon declared, "Maurice and I are going one-two in the
Worlds." To which Greene replied, "Be sure not to let anyone
[else] beat you."

Boldon and Greene were separated by just a thin wall in their
beach hotel near Athens and by even less than that in a
second-round heat last Saturday night. Boldon ran 9.87, equaling
the fourth-fastest time in history, while Greene nearly caught
him in 9.90. In another race during that same round, Bailey ran
10.10 and limped off the track. Speculation went off the charts:
Is Donovan hurt? Is Donovan sandbagging?

After Boldon won Sunday's first semifinal in 10 flat, Greene
nipped a much sharper Bailey in the second, 9.90 to 9.91. As
they approached the finish line with Greene slightly ahead,
Bailey eyeballed Greene, who glared back. After Bailey ran off
the track, he shouted at Greene, "I'm back! I'm back!" Greene
woofed at Bailey, "Yeah? I gotcha! I gotcha!" It appeared that
with the final looming, Bailey had worked his psychological game
perfectly, finding his own form and a weak spot in Greene's
psyche. "Not true," said Greene later. "Donovan never got into
my head."

For the final, Greene drew lane 3, next to Bailey in 4. Boldon
was in 6, but racked by prerace cramps, he would never be a
factor, finishing fifth. At the gun Greene came away first and
had daylight on Bailey at 50 meters, precisely where Bailey had
exploded to win the '95 Worlds and the '96 Olympics. Bailey made
his move again here, but with less pop, and Greene stayed clear.
"We hit 75 meters, and I knew he wasn't going to get me," said
Greene afterward. At the finish, in the ultimate display of
youthful exuberance, he turned his head and stuck his tongue out
at Bailey.

Greene's work in Athens isn't finished. This Sunday, if all goes
as planned, he will run anchor for the U.S. in the 4x100-meter
relay, an event in which--this might sound vaguely familiar--the
Americans haven't won a major gold since the '93 Worlds. Bailey
is Canada's anchor; Greene gets an early lesson in life at the

That is a lesson Jones could probably teach, such is her
maturity. Five months ago the former high school track prodigy
was a point guard for the North Carolina basketball team. In the
time since, she has not only rediscovered her talent and passion
for track and field but also navigated the minefield of sudden
fame with arresting grace. Last Saturday before the second round
of the women's 100, a scheduling snafu delayed the heats by
nearly an hour. Afterward, U.S. Olympic veterans Chryste Gaines
and Inger Miller complained. Jones? No problem. "There's always
chaos at big meets," she said. "Whoever handles the chaos wins."

In Sunday night's final, 37-year-old Merlene Ottey of Jamaica, a
four-time silver medalist at the Worlds, failed to hear the
second starter's gunshot, signaling a false start, and ran 60
meters alone. While Ottey took nearly three agonizing minutes to
return to the line, Jones bounced coolly in her lane. After the
restart Jones willed her decelerating body across the line in
front of fast-closing Zhanna Pintusevich of Ukraine. As
Pintusevich wildly celebrated what she thought was her upset
victory for a pack of photographers, Jones calmly walked around
the finish curve, certain she had won. Only when the result was
made official did she exult and run back down the home

Jones also has more to do in Athens. This Saturday she will
compete in the long jump and run the second leg in the 4x100
relay. Devers will anchor; Jones hasn't complained. All this is
only the beginning. She dreams of winning--nay, plans to
win--four gold medals at the '99 Worlds in Seville, Spain,
adding the 200 meters, in which she has run a world-best 22.16
this year and which she easily could have won in Athens had she
entered the event. Then she wants to win five (this time adding
the 4x400 relay) at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Along the way
she will attack Flo-Jo's world records for the 100 (10.49) and
the 200 (21.34) as well as the long jump mark (24'8 1/4"), set
in 1988 by Galina Chistyakova of the U.S.S.R. Just for kicks,
next spring she will enter a 400 meters. "I want to run very,
very fast, and I want to jump very, very far," says Jones.

Smart enough to recognize an emerging franchise, USA Track &
Field chief executive officer Craig Masback arranged for a
private car late Sunday night to whisk Jones and her small crew
(Hunter, coach Trevor Graham and agent Charlie Wells) to their
hotel. But first Jones stood in the light outside the stadium
and pondered her fast climb and new fame. "When I started the
European circuit this summer, it seemed so crazy, just being
over here," she said. Then it all became clear to her, as she
fingered the gold medal hanging from her slender neck. "As long
as you're running fast," she said, "life is good."

COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES Having held off Bailey (left), the cocky Greene gave his rival a tongue-lashing. [Donovan Bailey and Maurice Greene in race]

COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS After a close finish Pintusevich (left) mistakenly celebrated, only to learn that Jones was the winner. [Zhanna Pintusevic and Marion Jones crossing finish line]