This could be a sweet Olympics for U.S. women sprinters--if. If
LaTasha Colander's fragile psyche and finicky right Achilles
tendon hold up in the 100 meters. If Torri Edwards is cleared by
track's international ruling body of doping charges and runs both
the 100 and the 200. If Lauryn Williams (100) and Sanya Richards
and Dee Dee Trotter (both in the 400) can hold themselves
together after a long college season. If Allyson Felix (200) can
summon the maturity to compete on the grandest stage 14 months
after her high school graduation.
Things were much clearer four years ago, when Marion Jones won
the 100 and the 200 in Sydney by record margins. But Jones
finished fifth in the 100 at last month's U.S. trials and can run
the event in Athens only if (there's that word again) Edwards
loses her case and is suspended, and fourth-place trials finisher
Gail Devers elects to run just the hurdles, thus opening a spot.
Jones, in any case, is far off her best fitness and under a cloud
from the BALCO drug scandal.
Colander, Jones's former training partner, dominated the 100 at
the trials, blasting away from the field with a Flo-Jo-esque move
at 60 meters to win in 10.97. "My coach [Trevor Graham, based in
Raleigh] said all I did wrong was put my hand up [in celebration]
too soon at the finish," says Colander. "I was just elated."
Colander, 27, was one of the country's best in the 400 from 2000
to '02. Most runners move up in distance as they mature;
Colander, who ran sprints and hurdles in high school and at North
Carolina, has moved down. "I never forgot how to sprint," she
says. "Two years ago I told Trevor I wanted to try the 100 again
because I knew I couldn't do it in five or six years. I'd be too
The daughter of an Apostolic minister from Portsmouth, Va. (where
she rode the school bus with future NFL cornerback Dre' Bly),
Colander has a reputation for big nerves in big races. At the
trials she pulled out of the 200 at the last minute with Achilles
pain, prompting Graham to accuse her of faking the injury. The
two have patched up their differences, but Colander needs a
healthy leg and a strong spine if she's to win the 100 gold for
the U.S. --T.L.
COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO Colander (right) was a surprise winner in the 100 at the trials.