Yet how was it that the false starts and the scene before the race hadn't unsettled Bailey? "Sometimes the track gods are with you," said Dan Pfaff, Bailey's coach. "Good starters become unnerved when there are a lot of false starts. He's not a starter, so it didn't upset him as much."
No, Bailey is a finisher, a mellow soul as sprinters go. Not for him the frenzy of Boldon, who after finishing third in 9.90 behind Fredericks's 9.89, cried, "I would be the Olympic champion now if the starter hadn't changed our focus." After some pointed advice from U.S. sprinter Jon Drummond, Boldon composed himself. "I let myself be distracted by the starter," he said dutifully. "That was my fault."
Not for Bailey the poleaxed self-pity that moved Christie to half-jog a mock victory lap while Bailey celebrated with flag and fans. When Boldon said he thought Christie's stunt was disrespectful, Christie took such exception that Fredericks had to separate them, and here was Boldon in tears again: "If it was me, if I'd made two false starts, I'd be out of there. Everybody was affected by what Christie did at the start."
Everybody but Bailey, who revealed that he had been so absorbed in his own race keys—tight hip, stay relaxed—he didn't even realize Christie had been tossed. "I wondered what the delay was," he said.
Beyond being a sprinter who doesn't get nervous, Bailey is refreshing in other ways, having a surplus of occupations—he's also a marketing and investment consultant—and nationalities. "I'm a Jamaican-born Canadian sprinter," he said for the 1,200th time, "and no, no way will I run as long as Christie has. I don't have to. I have a million marketable skills. And by the way, I think it's pathetic that you have these lunatics running around [bombing] at the one place where 197 countries can gather in peace."
Bailey, in person and in performance, provided an Olympian riposte to the predawn fear and ignited a remarkable day in which Gail Devers became history's second woman to repeat as sprint champion (after Wyomia Tyus in 1964 and '68), even while Devers's significant other, Kenny Harrison, did about all a man can do to distract her.
Devers was acknowledging the crowd before her 100 semifinal—with a quick wave, her disapproving schoolmarm game face firmly on—when the applause leaped into a great roar. Harrison, the 31-year-old 1991 world champion in the triple jump, with whom Devers lives, had exploded into the sand at 59'¼", breaking Willie Banks's U.S. record (58'11½") and Mike Conley's Olympic record of 57'10¼". "I told him not to mess up my concentration," said Devers with loving asperity, "but of course he did."
She started terribly in that semi, but roared through the field to win in 11 flat. The final would be tougher, as it contained Jamaica's Merlene Ottey (four bronzes from four Olympics) and U.S. teammate Gwen Torrence (the 1995 world champion), two of the four women Devers had out-leaned in a blanket finish four years ago atop Montjuïc in Barcelona. So Devers had no time to fret for Harrison when British world-record holder Jonathan Edwards leaped 58'8" and suddenly made the triple jump a tight contest.
Harrison caught her off guard again. As the women's 100 finalists were setting their blocks, he bounded to the third longest jump in history, 59'4¼". When the noise of the multitude had died away, the women's 100-meter race unfurled without a trace of a false start. The short, dynamic Devers bolted to a quick lead. Then here came Ottey and Torrence. Near the line Devers twisted her left shoulder forward and ducked her head. Ottey kept her head higher and her chest forward.
As at Barcelona, no one knew who had won. For long minutes they waited, watching slow-motion replays on the scoreboard of races that were too close to call. Then the finish was shown on the screen, and Devers was declared the winner, though both she and Ottey were timed at 10.94. Torrence was third in 10.96.