American Williams grabs bronze

Updated: August 25, 2004, 3:31 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Australia's Loretta Harrop had been running alone for more than a half hour and, now, only a few hundred yards of pavement separated her from a triathlon gold medal.

Make that a few hundred yards and Austria's Kate Allen, who shot out of nowhere, pulled up next to Harrop and then left her behind.

"She was flying,'' Harrop said. "I never even saw her when she came past me.''

Allen won the triathlon Wednesday after being closer to the rear of the pack for most of the race. She passed half the field during the final leg of the swim-cycle-run endurance test, finishing in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 43.45 seconds.

"I was to hoping to run into a top 10,'' Allen said after winning by 6.72 seconds. "It wasn't until the last 200 meters that I actually saw it was possible.''

Susan Williams, the last American to qualify for the race, won the bronze despite crashing in the cycling race.

U.S. teammates Barb Lindquist, ranked No. 1 in the world, finished ninth, and Sheila Taormina, who edged Harrop at the world championships, finished 23rd.

"It's an incredible feeling,'' Williams said. "I wasn't supposed to be on the team, and to come away with a medal is just wonderful.''

Williams stopped training for the 2000 Sydney Games when she found out she was pregnant. Her daughter -- whose name is Sydney -- came with her this year for the event.

Early in the cycling leg, Williams crashed but quickly got back on her feet.

"I got too close into the sideboard on the tight turn,'' Williams said. "I flew a little but it wasn't too bad -- a few scratches and bruises, that's all.''

Williams caught up to Lindquist and they formed a two-person chase group, trailing about a half-minute behind Harrop and Taormina for most of the cycling stage.

For a while, the trio of Americans were the only ones close to Harrop but toward the end, Williams' more celebrated teammates faded.

Williams stayed strong until the end, finishing 25.47 seconds back.

"It was the race of my life,'' she said.

It was the finish of Allen's life.

An Aussie by birth and now living in Innsbruck, she mostly competes in Europe and rarely sees other Australian athletes.

She trailed Harrop by 2 minutes, 48 seconds going into the running leg, but moved from 28th place to fifth during the first two-thirds of it.

Allen then set after Harrop. When she finally passed her and crossed the finish line, Allen threw her arms up and put her hands on her head in disbelief.

"This was the best feeling of my career,'' she said. "I concentrated on one race in my whole career and this was it.''


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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