Work in Sports
Track and field notebook
Greene, Johnson look forward to 200 matchup
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Their showdown is still a week away, but Maurice Greene has made it clear his biggest goal in the U.S. Olympic trials is to dethrone Michael Johnson in the 200 meters.
After his sizzling 9.93-second performance in Friday's preliminaries, the second-fastest time in the world this year, Greene was asked what he wanted to do before this meet is through.
"Get Michael Johnson," he said. 'That's what I want to do." Greene was upset with a story in Friday's USA Today in which Johnson repeated his belief that Greene is "immature."
Asked if he felt bad about the article, Greene said, "No, I feel very motivated. He thinks he's unbeatable in the 200 meters. But the last time we raced, you know who won."
The two have raced against each other twice. Johnson won the first time in 1997, with Greene third. Greene beat Johnson in the 1998 Prefontaine Classic.
RUNNING HURT: Marla Runyan, who has gained worldwide attention for her success despite being legally blind, finished second to Regina Jacobs in her preliminary heat of the women's 1,500 meters.
She said she came close a week ago to pulling out of the trials because of a sore left leg, but she decided to come anyway and ran a 4:09.68.
Runyon had stopped training June 8 and didn't resume until Saturday. For nearly a month, she couldn't bend her right knee. All of her conditioning was in the swimming pool.
"If I was swimming the 1,500, I'd be tough to beat," Runyan said.
After the race, she became ill, then left the track dragging her injured leg.
"I was confident until about that third leg. Then it was `Oh man.' I sure missed that training," she said.
She had grown weary of all the interviews about her disability. Now she just directs people to her Web page.
"That's why I put up my Web site," she said. "Go to my Web site."
Runyan said she may not compete in the 5,000, depending on how she feels after Sunday's 1,500 final.
GAIL TAKES BACK SEAT: Gail Devers, accustomed to the glare of Olympic publicity, says she doesn't mind at all that the attention has shifted to Marion Jones.
"You look back over the last three years, who else would you write about," the two-time Olympic 100-meter champion said after winning her preliminary heat. "To be honest, any attention that's gone to women's track and field at all is great. It has nothing to do with who it is. She's a great athlete. She's doing extraordinary things."
Devers said it's nice to see so much attention for a woman.
"I'm glad to hear people say `How's Marion? Do you know Marion?" Devers said. "Usually, you only hear about guys. `Do you know Marion? Do you know Maurice Greene?' You know, females run, too."
BACK TO TRACK CITY: The 2001 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be held in Eugene, Ore., USA Track and Field announced Friday.
The meet will serve as the qualifier for the 2001 World Championships, which will be held in Edmonton, Alberta, in August.
"Given the fact that the world championships are in North America, we think that Eugene is the perfect place to stage our championships at six weeks before Edmonton," said USATF chief executive officer Craig Masback. "Our feeling is that Eugene not only holds a special place in track and field in this country but also around the world."
In addition to hosting the 2001 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Eugene's Hayward Field also will be the site of the 2001 NCAA outdoor meet May 30-June 2.
"The stars must have been aligned right," said Kathy Hermann, president of the Oregon Track Club. "We also have the Prefontaine (Classic) and I think the three events will all kind of build off each other. We're all pretty excited about it."
SPONSOR SHORTAGE: The list of elite track and field athletes without a major sponsor is growing and the number of participants in the sport is shrinking, says Mark Everett, an 11-time national champion indoors and outdoors at 800 meters.
"In order for an athlete to compete and maintain a standard of living, he or she has to have sponsorship," Everett said. "There are a lot of athletes - especially the young ones - who are talking about quitting the sport.
"When I came out in the late 1980s, sponsors were abundant."
Since then, they have dried up.
The athletes cited by Everett without a major sponsor are Dan O'Brien, the Olympic champion and American record-holder in the decathlon; Derrick Adkins, the Olympic gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles; and Kim Batten, the world record-holder and Olympic silver medalist in the women's 400 hurdles.
Everett, who has had a contract with Powerbar for several years and last month signed a two-year deal with Puma, also noted that "a lot of people with sponsors are getting clothes but not money."
"A lot of athletes are barely surviving," the two-time Olympian said.
"In the past, we made good money and saved or invested well. Now, it's a struggle. It's a whole different game.
"How do you feel when you're told you're not good enough to have a sponsor? If you have people who are national champions and don't have a sponsor, you (USA Track & Field) should take care of them financially. Athletes are finding other jobs because they can't make a living. I don't have another job because I know I can't do that and run track."