Work in Sports
U.S. track and field star Marion Jones
American Marion Jones will attempt to become the first woman to win five gold medals at the Olympics. Jones is expected to compete in the 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, 4x100 relay and the 4x400 relay.
1. What was it like marching into Sydney Stadium for the Opening Ceremonies?
Gosh, how do you put that into words? It was an overwhelming experience right now, and last night was simply incredible -- getting a chance to meet the other American athletes, getting composed, Venus and Serena, and having us like walk and rub shoulders and just being. Before we actually got there, people were like, "Have you been to the stadium? Have you seen the stadium?" And I said, "No, I just want to wait". Then when we first walked in there, everybody was just overwhelmed. All of the people and just how big it was and it was really an awesome experience, and I am glad that I had a chance to participate in it.
2. When did you start thinking about going for five gold medals?
It was some time in 1998. I honestly don't remember the exact date or anything, but I had success in '97 popping on the scene. In '98 I had the fastest time in the world and the 100 and 200 and the longest jump in the world with 7.31 and we put two and three together, I guess, and thought chances would be very good for me running 100 and 200 here in Sydney, long jumping, and 4x100 is a definite. And I have shown I can run some fast times in the 400 in the past couple of years, so if the U.S. team wanted to put me on that team and if it would help me, help them, I would be more than willing to do that.
3. Have you trained differently for Sydney?
I was disappointed in Brussels. I didn't compete well on the jumps. I had a great 100-meter race. My steps were a bit off. Jumping wise I felt very good and confident, but my approach to the board wasn't very good. We have made some necessary corrections since then, so that I am on the board because I think that's what it is going to take. If I get on the board, speed is without a doubt there. What I have been hearing from some of my biggest supporters is really all it takes is one big jump, one big jump and the competition could be over. So that's what I am hoping.
4. What adjustments did you make for the long jump?
I found it difficult in the past couple of years -- after running the 100 and immediately walking over to the long jump pit and adjusting that speed. Because I can't go out in the pit and run 10.69 down the runway and think that when I hit the board everything is going to be in place. I need to be more relaxed and comfortable on the runway. That's what I have been working on. Luckily I won't have to juggle the 100 and the long jump any of the days in Sydney and won't have to worry about transferring the speed to the runway, so I think that's a plus.
5. Do you look forward to the long jump or do you have to psych yourself up for it?
I am looking forward to all the events, but I think the long jump actually is very special to me because it is the big question. It is the big question mark for all of you. I think just to go there and get it started, to do what I know is possible, that's really what I am looking forward to.
6. Who do you think can beat you in the sprints?
I know if I put together the race I know is quite possible -- it will be difficult. I am not sitting up here saying that I am super woman. I have heard all of these terms describing me. I am not invincible. I am on the top of my game. I am running fast and confident. I am at the Olympic Games. I am 24 years old. It doesn't get much better than that. I am out to run my race. If somebody is ready to run 10.6, 10.5 you have to take that and run. If someone is out there willing to run that, let's make it a race.
7. What did you think of Cathy Freeman lighting the flame at the Opening Ceremonies?
It doesn't get much more incredible than that. You have all the Olympians from however many years back carrying the torch, and then ending with the present champion Cathy Freeman. I was two rows from the front and I was just so happy for her and it was the performance, the waves, everything was just so overwhelming that how could you not be in awe of it all.
8. Do you dream about or imagine winning all five golds?
Every time I take a nap, every time I sit down and relax, it gets very difficult. I am here now in Sydney and I put on the tube and there's something in regards to the games, or I look out my window and I see the rings. It is kind of hard to get away from it, but that is what it is all about. I have had the dreams. I have had the expectations of being there on the podium and as I continue to reiterate, I just want it to get started now and to have all those dreams realized finally.
9. What female sprinter from the past do you admire most?
I think Evelyn definitely rates up as one of my favorites. I know the history of Wilma Rudolph and Wyomia Tyus and all of that. I have seen tapes of those women. I got a chance when I was growing up to see Evelyn Ashford running on television and in '92 in the U.S. trails got a chance to line up against her. Out of all the female sprinters I have followed, she definitely ranks at the top of my list.
10. What do you think about Sydney?
That it's wonderful. I had the opportunity of being here in 1998. Had a chance to visit the stadium when it was being built, and it is everything that I dreamed of, and the people in general have been wonderful. The volunteers have been great and everything is falling into place. It's a beautiful city and I am glad that I am here.