American Williams finishes second

Updated: August 21, 2004, 6:27 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Lauryn Williams
Lauryn Williams (left) ran a personal-best 10.96 in the final to take the silver.
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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press