Triumphant return for Jones


The Associated Press
Marion Jones (center) breaks the tape between Torri Edwards (right) and  Rachelle Boone-Smith (left)  to win the women's 100-meter dash at  the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Indianapolis, Friday. Jones won with a time of 11.10 seconds.

AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Through the allegations, the suspicions, the whispers, Marion Jones is a national champion again.
The 30-year-old sprinter won the 100 meters in the U.S. championships Friday night to the cheers of nearly 10,000 fans at the stadium where she won her first U.S. crown nine years ago.
It was her 14th U.S. title, but first one in the sprints since 2002.
“I’ve had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” she said. “I definitely feel I am on my way back.”
In a show of track’s bruised past and brilliant future, Jones shared the stage with Justin Gatlin, the reigning Olympic and world champion, who couldn’t deliver the world record run the fans wanted to see. Still, Gatlin won the 100 easily in 9.93 seconds, running into a stiff headwind on a crowded schedule that required him to run three rounds.
It was a show of track’s bruised past and bright future.
Gatlin and Jamaican Asafa Powell hold the world 100 record at 9.77.
“I feel bad for the fans,” Gatlin said. “People wanted to come out here and see a great time. I wasn’t able to produce it. Mother Nature was a big factor in my race.”
Jones, once the unchallenged superstar of the sport, took a year off for the birth of her son, then struggled through injury and drug allegations that she vehemently denied. Although she never has tested positive for drugs, she endured accusations from her former husband C.J. Hunter and Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative founder Victor Conte.
Her former boyfriend, and father of her child, is former world 100 record holder Tim Montgomery. He was been suspended for two years for doping violations, and has retired from the sport. He never tested positive, but was punished based on testimony and evidence gathered in the BALCO criminal probe.
To make matters worse, Jones’ coach Steve Riddick and Montgomery are facing money laundering and bank fraud charges.
Still, she kept running. The allegations against her, she said, have made her stronger.
“It’s provided me with the utmost motivation to come back and reclaim the No. 1 spot in the world,” Jones said. “I think that has increased my motivation and put it at a level I probably haven’t seen since Sydney.”
She broke out of the blocks fast into a mild headwind and held off the competition in 11.10 seconds. Reigning world champion Lauryn Williams was second at 11.17. Torri Edwards, the 2003 world 100 champion, was third, also in 11.17.
She threw an arm up in triumph, then jogged down the track, smiling and waving to the crowd.
“At this point in time, the fans are the judges,” Gatlin said when asked if Jones’ comeback was good for the sport, “and the way the fans perceived her out there when she crossed the line, they love her. So why not? It’s great for track and field.”
Severe thunderstorms forced postponement of the 100 first round Thursday night, meaning three rounds of the race were held Friday. Gatlin said it was the first time he’s done that since high school.
He knows that anything less than a world record is a disappointment these days.
“People wanted to come out here and see a great time,” he said. “I wasn’t able to produce it. I feel bad for the fans, but I’m going to do it again for them. I just want to go out there and do it again for them. Hopefully next year, same time, same place, we’ll run a better time.”
The U.S. championships are scheduled to be held in Indianapolis again next year.
After the race, Gatlin was mobbed for autographs, a site rarely seen in the United States for a track athlete.
“You’re my favorit-est person in the world,” one youngster shouted. “I hope you know that!”
Gatlin spent at least a half hour signing and posing for photos on the edge of the track.
“I feel I’m a people’s champ,” he said. “I remember when I was just like them, begging for autographs or even scared to come up to an athlete I really looked up to. That means a lot to me for them to want my autograph. I love it.”
After spending six rounds dueling with two of the world’s top shot put competitors — Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell —reigning world champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist Adam Nelson was convinced his winning throw could have been even better.
Nelson captured his third national championship with a distance of 72 feet, 33/4 inches, beating runner-up Reese Hoffa by three inches before lamenting the one mistake he thought he made.
“I missed it actually,” Nelson said. “I’ve been having problems generating some lift and the minute I do, it’s going to be real big."


White Sox win Series rematch

By The Associated Press
Just like last October, Jose Contreras and Scott Podsednik led the Chicago White Sox past Houston. Still, Ozzie Guillen was angry at reporters again.
Contreras won his team-record 16th straight decision, Podsednik hit his first career grand slam and Chicago won a World Series rematch by beating the visiting Astros 7-4 Friday night for its eighth straight win.
“It’s a big deal,” Contreras said through a translator. “So many pitchers have gone through here. I’m really proud. It’s my record now. It’s something for me, personally, but the most important thing is that we won and we’re playing great right now.”
Eight months after helping the White Sox sweep Houston for their first championship since 1917, Podsednik and Contreras again found themselves in the middle of the action.