Swept under the rug
Men's chaos overshadows White's 100M gold
Posted: Monday August 25, 2003 10:23AM
SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) -- In the shadow of the absent Marion Jones, delayed by a brouhaha in the men's 100 meters, Kelli White claimed her first world championship with speed and grace.
The 26-year-old sprinter, with only a slight scar above her left eye as evidence to a horrific knife attack nine years ago, won the women's 100 meters Sunday night in 10.85 seconds. It was a 1-2 finish for the Americans, with Torri Edwards second at 10.93. Defending champion Zhanna Block of Ukraine was third in 10.99.
Jones, sitting out the year for the birth of her son, watched from the sidelines as a television analyst.
"Marion is a great athlete. She's achieved so much," White said. "I have a lot to do to be able to be where she is. I have years to go and a lot more learning and growing to do to be where she is."
Marion or no Marion, White's time was impressive, a personal best by .08 seconds.
The women's race was delayed for 30 minutes by Jon Drummond's defiant tirade after he was disqualified for a false start in the second round of the men's 100. On the warmup track, White wasn't sure what was going on, but the delay was a problem.
"The delay was a little bit much for us," White said. "We warm up for a certain time and when we get delayed a half an hour it's a little bit nerve-racking. But it turned out well, anyway."
White was sixth out of the blocks, but that's not unusual.
"My start is usually pretty bad, but I just don't panic," she said. "I believe that I'm strong and I've worked hard for this. I didn't panic and just ran pretty tough to the end.
At 50 meters, she was in control. After that, it was no contest.
Block, recovering from a lower-back injury, was grateful for the bronze medal and happy for White and the American's coach, Ukrainian Remi Korchemny, who also coaches sprinters Dwain Chambers and Chryste Gaines.
"I'm so happy for Kelli because her coach is one of my best friends," Block said. "If anybody won, I'm glad it was Kelli."
White's celebration was subdued. She moves on to the 200, and if she wins, she'd be the first U.S. woman to win both sprints at the same world championships. Her competition in the 200 will include Edwards and her 17-year-old teammate Allyson Felix.
Her first title seemed not nearly as important as the prospect of a second.
"How does it feel? I'm not sure yet. I still have another race to go. I'm really thinking about that," White said. "That's my the favorite race, the 200 meters."
White traces her terrific season to the disappointment she felt when she failed to qualify for the U.S. team at the world indoors.
"It took me a week to get over that," she said.
There have been hints to her talent since 2001, when she ran the 200 in 22.23. Only Jones ran a faster 200 that year.
She won the U.S. indoor 200 in 2002 and was second to Jones in the 200 outdoors at the U.S. meet that year.
In 1994, she was a high school phenom in Union City, Calif., near San Francisco. Two weeks after she ran the nation's fastest high school 200 of the year at the Sacramento Meet of Champions. Two days later, while waiting at a BART rapid transit station, she was attacked by a knife-wielding girl. The severe wounds required more than 300 stitches. She has had plastic surgery, and only the slight scar remains.
She talks openly about the attack, but it is fading into distant history as she builds her impressive success on the track. After her victory, she ran to her mother in the stands.
"I promised my mom a long time ago that I would win two world championships," White said.
She's halfway there.