Devers fails to reach 100-meter final

Updated: August 21, 2004, 3:37 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press