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Jones makes history, Johnson fades into it

The Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia – Michael Johnson and Marion Jones wrapped up their Olympics the same way they started them: in spectacular sprints to gold-medal finishes.

Saturday, September 30, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia – Michael Johnson and Marion Jones wrapped up their Olympics the same way they started them: in spectacular sprints to gold-medal finishes.

The two American track icons shared the wealth on the medal stands Saturday, both joined by their teammates in the 1,600-meter relay. And there was more gold for the United States: The U.S. women’s basketball team successfully defended its Olympic gold, and the men’s 400-meter relay team finished first.

For the U.S. track team, it started and finished with Jones, who thrived in the Sydney spotlight. She leaves Australia with three golds and two bronzes – falling short of her goal of five golds but still becoming the first woman to capture five medals in a single Olympics.

She also became the first woman since Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988 to win three track golds in one games. And she did most of it while shrugging off allegations that her husband, shot putter C.J. Hunter, had used steroids.

Jones won the 100- and 200-meter sprints, took a bronze in the long jump and a bronze in the 400-meter relay, then closed out Saturday with a gold in the 1,600 relay.

Jones ran a spectacular third leg, moving from second place into a comfortable 15-meter lead before handing off to anchor Latasha Colander-Richardson. Though not usually a 400-meter runner – and with no desire to be one – Jones shared with individual 400 champion Cathy Freeman the distinction of having the fastest leg of any runner in the relay final.

”In a couple of days, when I look back, I’ll probably feel these were successful games,” Jones said. ”I wanted to win them all, without a doubt, and I still think it’s possible. But I didn’t, so I’m not going to dwell on that.”

Johnson, in his farewell Olympic appearance, anchored the men’s 1,600 relay team to capture his fifth gold medal over three Summer Games. Across an amazing career, Johnson has won nothing but gold – five Olympic and nine world championship medals.

He earlier won the 400 in Sydney.

Led by 100-meter champion Maurice Greene on the anchor leg, the Americans won the men’s 400-meter relay – but the four-man team drew more attention with their-post race antics, an assortment of WWF-style poses and muscle-flexing.

In the 1,500 meters, Suzy Favor Hamilton’s bid to become the first American medalist in the event ended when she collapsed about 75 meters from the finish line and finished last. Suffering from dehydration, she was taken off the track in a wheelchair.

Marla Runyan, the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics, took the lead early in the race because she was frustrated with the pace but wound up eighth – ”which the first time around is not bad,” she said.

”And, I’m going to be back.”

With one day left in the Sydney Games, the Americans were poised to collect the most medals, leading the pack with 90 (38 gold, 22 silver, 30 bronze). Running second was Russia with 77 (28-24-25), followed by China’s 59 (28-16-15).

– WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Talk about winning on the road.

The U.S. hoopsters faced host Australia before a rabid crowd eager to see the gold medal come home – and sent the locals home disappointed. The Americans, winners of the Atlanta Games, took their second straight gold with a 76-54 thrashing of Australia.

”We played hard, we played great,” U.S. center Lisa Leslie said. ”We knew we could do it, but it’s still an amazing feeling to do it on someone else’s homecourt.”

The Americans won with rebounding and defense, holding Australia to 31 percent shooting while winning the battle of the boards 48-27. Leslie and Natalie Williams led the Americans with 15 points each, while Yolanda Griffith added 13 points and 12 rebounds.

The U.S. women led by 13 at halftime, and quickly answered Australia’s one second-half run to put the game away. The U.S. team has now won the last two Olympics and the 1998 world championships.

Australia’s silver medal marked the nation’s highest finish ever in women’s basketball.

– WRESTLING: The Americans took a pair of silver medals as two wrestlers were defeated in their gold medal matches. Brandon Slay, in his first major international meet, lost 4-0 to Alexander Leipold of Germany at 167 1/2 pounds.

U.S. veteran Sammie Henson lost 4-3 to Namig Abdullayev of Azerbaijan at 119 pounds.

Gold medalist Rulon Gardner, who ended the 13-year undefeated streak of Russian super heavyweight Alexander Karelin, will carry the U.S. flag during the Olympic closing ceremony Sunday.

– WATER POLO: After blowing two leads, the U.S. men regrouped to defeat Croatia 9-8 in overtime – a victory that lifted them into the game for fifth place.

Chris Humbert’s third goal, a cannon-shot from a quarter pool-length away with 1.4 seconds left in extra time, was the game winner for the United States (3-4-0). The Americans close out play Sunday (Saturday night EDT).