ATHENS, Greece -- Joanna Hayes screamed as she crossed the
finish line of the 100-meter hurdles in Olympic-record time. About
90 meters behind her, world champion Perdita Felicien lay flat on
the ground, crying in disbelief.
Felicien stepped on the first hurdle, tumbling to the ground and
taking Irina Shevchenko of Russia with her. All Felicien could do
was watch Hayes win in 12.37 seconds, breaking the Olympic record
of 12.38 set by Bulgaria's Yordanka Donkova 16 years ago.
After the race, Felicien still couldn't believe what happened.
"I don't think this is going to sink in," said Felicien, a
Canadian who attended the University of Illinois. "I think it's
going to take four years for it to sink in. I'm devastated. I was
ready to run that race. I was ready to do this."
Olena Krasovska of Ukraine won silver in 12.45 and Melissa
Morrison of the United States finished in 12.56 to win her second
straight Olympic bronze in the event.
After the victory, Hayes fell to the track before running to the
stands to accept congratulations and wrapping herself in the
"Going in, I felt I was going to run 12.37. I just did what I
told myself I was going to do," Hayes said. "I worked hard to be
at this point, and any given day I may lose or win a race. I'm not
saying I can't be beaten, but tonight I'm the best hurdler in the
Before the race, it was Felicien who was ranked No. 1 in the
world. She came into the race as the favorite after 37-year-old
Gail Devers failed to make it out of her opening heat because of a
strained left calf. During the semifinals Monday, Hayes dedicated
the race to her teammate.
Felicien walked on the track confident. She walked off in
disgust, then watched with a grimace as Hayes and Morrison took
their victory lap.
"The first hurdle came up and I reached for it way too much,"
she said, "... and before I knew it I was on the ground and I
could not believe it."
The Russian Federation filed an unsuccessful protest, pushing
the medal ceremony back to Wednesday. Track officials debated for
about two hours before rejecting the Russians' arguments.
Shevchenko left the track without commenting.
"I feel for her," Hayes said. "I know in the hurdles, though,
so many things can happen. It gets dangerous."
While officials discussed the protest, Hayes and Morrison were
told there was a chance they'd have to run the race again Thursday.
Although she was worried, Hayes tried to keep her spirits up.
"What's life without a little controversy?" she said.
Morrison had a few problems of her own in the race. She hit two
hurdles, and that nearly forced her to turn sideways.
"For me to come in third place after hitting two hurdles, I'm
happy about that," Morrison said. "I got a medal to match my
medal from Sydney."
Hayes, a former long jumper, narrowly missed a spot on the 2000
Olympic team, finishing fourth in the 400 hurdles and fifth in the
100 hurdles. She finished second at the trials this year.
She became the second American to win the event since it went to
100 meters in 1972. That's one more medal than Devers, who has
never won an Olympic medal in the event despite being considered
one of the greatest hurdlers of all time.
"This is my vision to win the Olympic medal and break the
record," Hayes said. "I wanted to win this."