Work in Sports
Up in the air
Lingering injury leaves Miller unsure about 200
SYDNEY, Australia -- U.S. sprinter Inger Miller, who pulled out of the Olympic 100 meters last week with an injury, has "a good chance" of running in this week's 200 meters, according to her coach, John Smith.
Miller has been resting and receiving daily therapy on her strained left hamstring, which she injured during a Sept. 7 workout. Miller sprinted for the first time in six days late Sunday afternoon on a training track near Olympic Stadium. "It was a lot better than before the 100," Smith said Sunday night. "She has a good chance to run." Smith also said, however, that he wouldn't make a final decision until Monday morning. Miller last sprinted in spikes on Sept. 18, and experienced significant pain the next day.
Miller's presence in the 200 meters could provide Marion Jones with the challenge she lacked in winning her first Olympic gold medal Saturday night in the 100. Miller has run the 200 in 21.77 seconds, just .01 slower than Jones's non-altitude best. However, Miller also pointed out last week that even if she is able to run the 200, she will have missed almost three weeks of heavy training, which could leave her stale.
Decisions and bad blood
Chaplin, the retired former Washington State coach, basically has two choices:
1) Keep together the all-HSI foursome of Jon Drummond, Curtis Johnson, Bernard Williams and 100-meter gold medalist Maurice Greene. They worked on passes and ran 37.65, sixth-fastest in history, in Berlin Sept. 1.
2) Or replace any of the HSI runners with others from the U.S. relay pool of eight runners.
Chaplin said Sunday that he will pick only four runners and keep the team together through the rounds. Most informed people expect Chaplin to ditch at least one -- and probably two -- of the HSI runners, and replace them with either Brian Lewis, Tim Montgomery, or both. Lewis and Montgomery ran 37.59 with Drummond and Greene, and won the world title in Seville last summer.
"Chaplin told both me and Tim to be ready," said Lewis Sunday afternoon. "I think we're going to run for sure."
Sources in the HSI camp said they expect either Johnson or Williams, or possibly both, to get bounced. Greene, who isn't happy about the change and has twice had heated exchanges with U.S. 200-meter runner John Capel over HSI bravado, went to the Olympic Village on Sunday to talk with Lewis and Montgomery, who have both accused him of trying to use his juice to influence the makeup of the team. Which Greene denies.
Even if Chaplin ditches Williams and Johnson, HSI will play it cool. Making a fuss wouldn't endear them to the public. Meanwhile, Chaplin's butt is on the line. He's not really a coach here (Olympic coaches never are), he's a bureaucrat, chosen because he has served USA Track and Field throughout his career.
Remember: Lewis and Montgomery got the stick around in Seville, but not two years earlier in Athens. Plus, there's lousy chemistry among this foursome, because Montgomery and Lewis don't like HSI and HSI runners didn't want to get split up.
Presumably they'd all like to win a gold medal, but with U.S. relays, that's never easy.
Quietly, Marion Jones' chances of winning five gold medals are diminishing, and it's not her fault. Jones should win the 200 Thursday in Seville and contend all night in the long jump. But her potential 4x100 and 4x400 relay teammates are struggling. Jones was the only U.S. sprinter to make the final of the 100 (defending world champion Bahamas had three) and no American runners made the semifinals of the 400 meters. Michelle Collins, who finished third in the U.S. trials in the 400, is out with a hip injury.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Tim Layden is in Sydney covering the track
and field competition for the magazine and CNNSI.com. Check back daily to read
Layden's behind-the-scenes reports from Down Under.