Thursday: U.S.' Crawford wins 200m amid jeers
Posted: Friday August 27, 2004 4:34AM; Updated: Friday August 27, 2004 4:34AM
ATHENS, Aug 26 (Reuters) -- Shawn Crawford led an American sweep of Olympic medals in the 200 metres in Athens on Thursday, ignoring the jeers of a hostile crowd livid that their local hero was not on the starting line after missing a doping test.
The packed 75,000 crowd at the Olympic Stadium began chanting "Kenteris, Kenteris!" and "Hellas, Hellas!," holding up the start of the race by about five minutes.
Costas Kenteris, Greece's 2000 Olympic champion in the event, withdrew from the Games after missing a drugs test in mysterious circumstances the day before the opening ceremony.
The drugs scandal, which also involved Greek women's sprinter Katerina Thanou, has overshadowed the Athens Olympics ever since and split public opinion in Greece.
"I didn't let the booing affect me. I think I understood what they (the Greek spectators) were going through," Crawford said.
"We are here at the birthplace of the Olympics and the defending champion is from Greece...and he was not allowed to compete.
"I can understand that they were upset but I don't know why they had to react like this."
The crowd spared only one man their jeers before the start, cheering wildly when former 200m world champion Frank Fredericks, set to retire after Athens, was introduced.
He began pleading with them to be quiet as the protest continued. Fredericks finished his top-level career with fourth place.
The American said his coach had warned the trio that the crowd would be hostile.
Crawford denied fellow American Justin Gatlin an Olympic sprint double as he stormed to victory in 19.79 seconds. Silver went to Bernard Williams (20.01) with Gatlin, the 100m winner, taking the bronze (20.03).
"It didn't disturb us," Gatlin added of the protest. "We got all three medals. We kept our composure. We didn't want anyone to sneak in to get one of those medals."
It was the first American clean sweep since 1984 and the trio all ran substantially quicker on Thursday than Kenteris's winning time in Sydney.
Crowds have booed American athletes on several occasions during the Games in Athens, and at the basketball on Thursday the U.S. team were jeered off the floor after an ill-tempered 102-94 quarter-final win over Spain.
SANCHEZ FLIES TO VICTORY
Four days shy of his 27th birthday, Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic streaked to an expected victory in the 400 metres hurdles final, clocking a time of 47.63 seconds.
Sanchez is unbeaten in more than 40 races and last lost in July 2001.
"The confidence is there and I know I can make a mistake and still win," Sanchez said. "But going into this race was no easy feat. Pressure-wise I was really emotional coming into the race, with all the hours waiting."
Jamaica's Danny McFarlane took silver in 48.11 with France's Naman Keita collecting bronze in 48.26.
With his first attempt of the night, Dwight Phillips of the United States took the long jump gold medal with a leap of 8.59 metres.
It was one centimetre off his best, set in Austria three weeks ago, 28 cm better than anyone else in the field had managed this season and better than anyone else in the world had produced for four years.
John Moffitt made it an American one-two when he took silver with a leap of 8.47 while Spain's Joan Lino Martinez got bronze with 8.32.
The United States and China led the medals race on Thursday as the 28th Olympiad went into its final days, with over 50 Athens olive wreaths still to be won.
The United States has 28 gold, three ahead of China with Australia third on 16. Russia climbed to fourth, equal with Japan, after a bad start to the Games. They had 15 golds.
Student Andrey Moiseev led the Russian charge, easily winning the men's modern pentathlon. He was so far ahead in the mix of running, fencing, shooting, swimming and show jumping that he was able to stop and accept a flag from a spectator before the finish line.
At the other end of the scale, Egypt won their first gold medal in 56 years courtesy of a hefty Greco-Roman wrestler.
Karam Ibrahim took barely three minutes to crush his opponent in the final of the 96kg class, boosting his appeal to professional wrestling chiefs in the United States who have been wooing the extrovert Ibrahim to join their ranks.
In the biggest shock of the day, the German women's hockey team, ranked seventh at the start of the Games, fired in two stunning goals in the first half to shock the Netherlands and win their first gold in the sport.
Drugs again dogged the sports spectacle as rower Olena Olefirenko tested positive for a prohibited stimulant, costing Ukraine a bronze. Weightlifter Zoltan Kovacs became the second Hungarian to be chucked out, after refusing to take a dope test.
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