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Devers fails to reach 100-meter final

8/21/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- Americans Lauryn Williams and LaTasha
Colander sped into the 100-meter final Saturday behind Yuliya
Nesterenko of Belarus, but two-time winner Gail Devers was
eliminated along with gold-medal favorite Christine Arron of
France.

Williams, the 20-year-old NCAA champion from the University of
Miami, won her heat in 11.01 seconds. Colander was fourth in that
heat, barely edging 44-year-old Merlene Ottey for a spot in the
final later Saturday night.

In the other heat, Arron got a terrible start, appearing to
stumble in the opening meters. She quickly found herself behind the
field and finished sixth in 11.21. Devers was seventh in 11.22.

"I'm very disappointed. I really don't know what happened,''
Arron said. "Basically on the first or second stride I pushed on
my leg and collapsed. I just could not get up to speed. It was too
late.''

That heat was won by Nesterenko in 10.92. She is the only woman
to have broken 11 seconds in all three rounds so far.

Devers, 37, won gold in the 100 at the 1992 and 1996 games, but
finished fourth at the U.S. trials and only made the team when
Torri Edwards was suspended for two years for accidentally
ingesting a banned stimulant. Devers defended her decision to run
in the 100 instead of giving the spot to defending champion Marion
Jones, who finished a shocking fifth at the trials.

Devers said the 100 got her ready for the 100-meter hurdles,
which begin Sunday. She has three world championships in the
hurdles but has never earned an Olympic medal.

"What better way to get speed work than the Olympic Games. Now
I'm going to go back, ice, get myself back together, come back here
tomorrow and start the quest for the 100-meter hurdles,'' she said.