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Would you rather be good or lucky

Would you rather be goodor lucky?
Jim Dunaway for the IAAF
11 August 2001 – Edmonton - The United States' 4x100 metres relay teams tried it both ways.

The U.S. women, after qualifying in moderate fashion by finishing second behind France in the faster of the two heats - France running 42.49 to the Americans 42.64 -replaced anchor women Torri Edwards with Marion Jones for the final.

The results were electrifying. Despite a less-than-elegant first exchange between lead-off runner Kelli White and Chryste Gaines, by the time third leg Inger Miller passed off to Jones, Maid Marion had a 2-3 metres lead on France, Germany and Jamaica.

Then Jones tore off an anchor leg which added another three metres to the margin, hitting the finish in 41.71 to Germany's 42.32. just watching Jones run one could see that the tightness which had marked her races earlier in the week was gone.

This was the real Marion Jones - the one we had all come to Edmonton to see.

Whatever sluggishness there was, or seemed to be, before she came to these World Championships is gone. Zurich -- look out!

The American victory ended a four-year drought in the women's 4x100 at major meetings. In the 1999 World Championships in Sevilla and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, a Bahamas team of Sevatheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup, Pauline Davis and Debbie Ferguson dominated everyone,  while injuries limited  the United States to fourth and and third places, respectively.

Last evening, after Ferguson finished a close second to Jones in the individual 200, the Bahamian lamented the absence of Fynes (injured) and Davis (retired),saying, "I'm sorry I won't be running the 4x100 tomorrow."  Then she added with a big smile, "But I'm going to the mall!"

Yes, the U.S. women were good. But the U.S. men were lucky. Coach Orin Richburg decided to go with a second-string team in the first of three rounds in the men's 4x100. Instead of using 100-metres medalists Tim Montgomery and Bernard Williams on the two straightaway legs, Richburg sent out a  foursome of Jon Drummond, Mickey Grimes, Dennis Mitchell and J.J.Johnson.

It almost didn't work. two-thirds of the way through the first leg, Drummond's right quadricep cramped. "It felt like someone punched me," he said. And although he managed to hand off to Grimes late in the zone, it took a  brilliant curve by the veteran Mitchell to give Johnson the lead going into the final 100m. Their winning time was 38.35, the pretty slow for a U.S. team in a meet of this level.

A few minutes later, it got worse. Drummond had stepped on the inside lane line twice while trying  to run with his cramp, and the U.S. was disqualified.
The U.S. then protested the DQ, and after a half-hour of thinking about it the jury of appeal reinstated the United States for Sunday's semfinals.

The Perils of Pauline will continue tomorrow afternoon, with the final scheduled to be the last track race of  the Championships. The U.S. team has been announced as Mickey Grimes to Bernard Williams to Dennis Mitchell to Tim Montgomery.

The American news release concludes with the words, "Subject to Change."

As if we couldn't figure that out for ourselves!