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American Williams finishes second

8/21/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- Lauryn Williams' giddiness over her
100-meter silver medal was only overshadowed by her unbridled joy at the presence of
her ailing father.

Yuliya Nesterenko ended two decades of American dominance in the
100 with a powerful closing surge to barely defeat the 20-year-old
Williams, who introduced herself as the future of U.S. sprinting.

Nesterenko, a Belarusian who had never broken 11 seconds before
the Olympics but did it in all four rounds here, won gold in 10.93
seconds. Williams, the NCAA champion from the University of Miami,
was second in a personal-best 10.96. Veronica Campbell of Jamaica
got the bronze in 10.97.

Nesterenko got out to an early lead, then Williams overtook her
with about 30 meters remaining. But the taller Nesterenko used her
longer stride to catch the 5-foot-3 Williams in the closing meters.

Silver was just fine for Williams, a talkative newcomer who just
a few months ago was taking college classes. It was made sweeter by
the presence of her father, who has leukemia and came to Athens
after a $10,000 donation from a cancer survivor in his home state
of Pennsylvania.

When the race was over, Williams saw a replay of her parents
celebrating in the stands. David Williams, who must undergo
periodic dialysis because of kidney failure, had missed his
daughter's races on Friday.

"They showed them actually on the screen at the finish line so
I got to see them and they were going crazy," Lauryn Williams
said. "I'm so glad he made it here, because he missed the first
two races."

David Williams jumped for joy and began accepting handshakes as
soon as the results were posted on the scoreboard.

"Even on my best days, I don't have the strength she has," he
said.

The only other American to reach the final, U.S. champion
LaTasha Colander, was last in 11.18.

Americans had won the previous five gold medals in the women's
100. But defending champion Marion Jones finished fifth at the U.S.
trials. Gail Devers, the winner in 1992 and 1996, was eliminated in
the semifinals. Florence Griffith Joyner won in 1988 and Evelyn Ashford was the 1984 champion.

The event was missing numerous top U.S. sprinters involved in
doping investigations.

World champion Torri Edwards and Kelli White are serving drug
suspensions. Chryste Gaines, who like Jones did not qualify, has
been charged with steroid use. Jones is being investigated. Jones
and Gaines claim they never used performance-enhancing substances.