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Dream goes on for tracksters

Maurice Greene wins 100m heat at 9.93 seconds

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The dream goes on for Jackie Joyner-Kersee. It also goes on for Marion Jones.

Joyner-Kersee, the most decorated U.S. woman in Olympic track and field history with six medals, including three golds, returned to competition after a two-year absence Friday night and qualified for the long jump final in the U.S. Olympic trials.

The popular 38-year-old star, who was voted the outstanding women's athlete of the 20th century, was accorded a rousing ovation by the capacity crowd of 23,211 at hot and humid Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium after her third and final jump.

Joyner-Kersee is bidding for her fifth Olympic team, an accomplishment that would equal the American record for a woman's track and field athlete, held by another long jumper, Willye White.

Having practiced little since her retirement in 1998, the rusty Joyner-Kersee showed only traces of the form that enabled her to win the 1988 Olympic gold medal and set the American record of 24 feet, 7 inches.

Her best jump came on her final attempt, 21-0 3/4. Before that, she leaped 20-7 3/4, then fouled, running through the pit.

"I'm very rusty," the weary Joyner-Kersee said after finishing eighth in the qualifying. "Couldn't you tell? The door is squeaking."

The indomitable Jones, chasing a record five Olympic gold medals, blasted through her first-round heat in the 100 meters in 10.92 seconds, only 0.08 seconds off her world-leading time this year, then joined Joyner-Kersee in Sunday's long jump final, soaring 21-6 3/4 twice before fouling.

Jones said she would not hold much back in the 100 heats and she didn't.

Neither did Maurice Greene, but he also showed that he would be a force in the men's 100.

Greene, who failed to make the 1996 team, then sobbed inconsolably while watching the Olympic final in the stands at Atlanta, burst out of the blocks with the force of a rocket and won his heat in 9.93, only 0.02 seconds off his world-best this season.

As usual, Jones was slow out of the blocks in the 100, but by 30 meters she had forged to the front, and at the 50-meter mark she was comfortably ahead. Only near the finish did she slow slightly.

"I think everybody just wanted to go out there and get started," the two-time world champion said. "We're tired of all the talking."

The long jump is Jones' weakest event, and her technical shortcomings were evident even though she had the fifth-best jump among the qualifiers.

Jones will run the 100 semifinals and final Saturday. Next weekend, she will compete in the 200 as she bids to surpass the record of four Olympic golds by Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and Fanny Blankers-Koen.

"It wasn't fun out there today," the resolute Jones said. "It was all business."

While Jones was the fastest qualifier in the 100, her major rivals showed they weren't conceding anything to her.

Gail Devers, the two-time Olympic gold medalist, broke 11 seconds for the first time this year, winning her heat at 10.99, and Inger Miller, the silver medalist and 200 champion in last year's World Championships, took her heat at 11.04 despite a very slow start.

Greene, the world record-holder, two-time world champion and 1999 world 200 champion, showed no weaknesses in his heat. Charging right out from the start, he had the field beaten easily about halfway through the race, before easing some 20 meters from the finish.

"I think a lot of people thought I came here not ready to run," Greene said. "I'm here to show that I am.

"Just because I lost a couple of races — that's practice. Now it's showtime!"

Greene took exception to a story by Michael Johnson saying that he was not motivated.