Inside track: Jones out the back door
Jamaica stormed to Olympic gold in the women's 4x100 metres relay on Friday while Tatyana Lebedeva leapt to victory in the long jump but Marion Jones failed to produce the goods and threaten for a medal on both occasions. The Sydney drive for five was red
Jones finished her short Olympic campaign on a sour note when she left the Athens stadium with fifth place in the long jump and disqualification in the relay.
But then in 2000, doping suspicions didn't surround her.
Constantly quizzed about her connection with the raided Balco laboratory, responsible for the banned steroid THG, and her choice of partners -- banned shot putter CJ Hunter and world 100 metres record-holder Tim Montgomery, who faces doping charges, the pressure has obviously gotten to Jones.
Having endured a difficult year, her performances on Friday, which included a long jump best of 6.85 metres and failure to complete a changeover in the 4x100 relay, were practically a fall from grace.
"It's been a rough one," Jones said tearfully.
She began the evening with a foul on her first attempt in the long jump. Managing 6.85 metres on her second try, the 28-year-old appeared to be finding her rhythm only to fail to better the effort.
It was a Russian sweep as Irina Simagina and Tatyana Kotova claimed the silver and bronze medals respectively, both in 7.05 metres, with Simagina winning on the count back.
Jones, the long jump bronze-medallist in Sydney four years ago, had to settle for fifth place.
With a chance to make amends in the 4x100 relay, Jones ran the second leg for the U.S., who confidently announced that they were capable of beating the world record (set by East Germany in 1985).
With Angela Williams starting off, the race began very positively for the Americans, who quickly led after the first leg. The problems, however, arose once Jones was ready to pass the baton to the third runner Lauryn Williams.
In fact, the hand-off never happened.
Despite screaming "Wait, wait, stop!" Jones could not reach Williams, the 100 metres silver-medallist. When she finally made contact on her fourth attempt, it was too late.
"I thought Angela (Williams) ran a good leg and I thought I ran a good leg," said Jones.
"I just couldn't get the baton to Lauryn, it didn't happen today.
"I kept yelling, 'wait, stop, hold up' but after running 100 metres I was out of breath and I don't know if she could hear me.
"I exceeded my wildest dreams in a negative sense," she added. "We were looking for great things to happen, they didn't happen today.
"It's extremely disappointing, words can't put it into perspective."