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Sydney 2000 - Key Moments

Little Marion thinking big

American sprint queen Marion Jones made it into the Sydney Olympics record books with an astounding haul of five medals, three of which were gold, before finally being cornered into admitting she was a dope cheat seven years later and handing back her medals.

Found guilty of lying the federal agents during an investigation into the BALCO doping affair Jones began a six-months jail term March 7, 2008.

Jones had arrived at the Games with the self declared target of bettering historic medal hauls from compatriots Jesse Owens (Berlin 1936) and Carl Lewis (Los Angeles 1984), who had both managed to win gold in the same four events at a single Olympics.

Jones was targetting the same four, the 100m, 200m, long-jump and 4x100m sprint but was also competing in the 4x400m relay.

On Saturday the 23rd of September her campaign got off to a flying start in the 100m dash where she clocked 10.75sec to grab a first gold with the field trailing yards behind.

The following morning however it was revealed that Jones' husband, shot putter CJ Hunter also competing at Sydney, had returned a positive dope test.

Years later after Jones had divorced Hunter he accused her of being doped at Sydney.

Observers watched closely to see what the North Carolinan's reaction would be to Hunter's downfall. Would she be able to buckle down or would she crumble?

"Little Marion", as the former basketballer who stands at 1m78cm is nicknamed, exploded toward her second gold four days after the media frenzy over her husband, by registering 21.84sec in the 200m, once more leaving competitors simply trailing in her wake.

These two victories had been widely anticipated, but the third part of her five star target was the long-jump, a discipline where she was less sure of herself.

Despite her speed on the runway, her launch was often tainted by hesitance.

Something to tell the grandchildren

A glance at Jones' long-jump performances over the 2000 season suggested that a third gold was far from being out of the question.

Her main rivals, Italy's Fiona May and Russia's Tatiana Kotova had that year registered jumps of 7.09m and 7.04m respectively.

But on the big day German veteran Heike Drechsler, was the surprise winner with an effort of 6.99m. Jones came third with a best of 6.92m behind May, who won silver.

Jones was dignified in defeat and handed Dreschler a compliment saying: 'I can tell my grandchildren that I went up against one of the greatest long-jumpers off all time.'

After that 'disapointment' the last two legs of her five event challenge, the 4x100m and 4x400m, both scheduled for Saturday September 30 had lost a little of their spice, though victory in both would have seen Jones equal the feat of Owens and Lewis.

In the 4x100m relay botched baton exchanges saw the US relegated to bronze behind the Bahamas and Jamaica.

But later that day the US won the 4x400m with Jones running third to propel her team toward victory and a rare haul of five athletics medals.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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