place for Perec and disappointment for Bailey and Bubka in Lausanne
5 July 2000 Lausanne, Switzerland - France's Marie Jose Perec made a gutsy comeback to the world of track Wednesday finishing second behind Debbie Ferguson of the Bahamas in the women's 200m at the Athletissima Grand Prix meet, her first race in almost a year.
Ferguson equalled the season's best time set by Australia's Melinda Gainsford-Taylor, clinching victory in 22.43 seconds, while Perec crossed second with an honest 22.71.
The famous fast track saw American Allen Johnson post the season's quickest time in the 110m hurdles, the reigning Olympic champion clocking 13.06 to reduce his own previous best by .04 seconds.
Two-time world champion Cathy Freeman of Australia also took advantage of the swift Pontaise track to record the season's top performance in the women's 400m, clinching her 38th victory in 39 finals since the Atlanta Olympics.
Plagued by a rare blood virus since her since her double gold in Atlanta, Perec missed all of last season and finishing second was considered a major accomplishment for her long-awaited comeback.
``After everything I've had to go through, it's superb,'' said a radiant Perec, whose last 200m dated back to July 28, 1999, when she finished second in 23.65 in Lahti, Finland. ``You always have a sense of disappointment when you finish second but I feel good. I expected to achieve this level so there's no surprise.
``I was afraid, it frightens me but at the same time it excites me.''
Perec will tackle the longer 400m for the first time since 1996 in Nice on Saturday.
Trinidad's Ato Boldon recorded a double, winning both the 100m and 200m on the lightning-quick Pontaise track for his first taste of victory in a major track meet this season.
Boldon recorded the second-fastest time of the year with 9.95 in the 100m, while
clocking the third most rapid chrono in the 200m with 19.97.
It was a solid time for Boldon, who was forced out of last year's World Championships due to injury and has shown continuous improvement since returning to the track this season, finishing second at the Golden League 100m in Rome last week.
Only American world champion Maurice Greene has run faster, clocking 9.91 in Osaka earlier this year.
For Olympic champion Donovan Bailey of Canada, who was aiming to prove last week's promising 9.98 chrono in Lucerne was no fluke, a fifth-place finish was a major disappointment.
Bailey, who has had mixed results since suffering a career-threatening Achilles tendon injury almost two years ago, was furious with his time of 10.12.
``I have no answers for today. I don't know what went wrong,'' said Bailey furiously. ``What I've got to do now is get consistent. I wasn't running my race today. I never ran any part of that race, none, zero.''
Freeman, who won the world 400m title in Seville last August, easily outdistanced the women's field, crossing in 49.56 seconds, over half a second faster than her closest rival Lorraine Graham of Jamaica.
Graham, the bronze medallist at the worlds in Seville, clocked 50.07, and was followed by Russia's Olga Kotlyarova, third in 50.30. Nigeria's Olabisi Afolabi crossed fourth in 51.15.
``I'm happy it's the world's leading time this year,'' said Freeman, who will return to London to train before her next race, the Golden League in Oslo on July 28. ``It's nice, though technically it wasn't the best race.
``I need to get out of the blocks quicker and I need to improve my gear changes from fourth to fifth instead of third to fifth.''
The 27-year-old Freeman, who's won every 400m race she's entered this season, improved on American Marion Jones' previous season best by .03 seconds.
World championship bronze medallist Greece's Ekaterina Thanou won the women's 100m in 10.91, equalling the season's second-best time. Zhanna Pintusevitch finished runner-up, trailing by .03, while Debbie Ferguson of the Bahamas placed third in 11.01.
It marked a third straight victory in the 100m for Thanou, who shaved off .02 off her best time this season.
Only Marion Jones has run faster, clocking 10.84 in Osaka and 10.91 in Rome last week.
American Gail Devers finished seventh .39 off the pace, though made up for the lapse by claiming the women's 100m hurdles in 12.50.
Devers, a three-time world 100m hurdle champion, who ran the fastest time of the season in 12.47 at the Golden League in Rome, beat Nigeria's Glory Alozie, runner-up in 12.56.
Kenya's Noah Ngeny won the men's 1,500m in 3 minutes, 31.61 seconds.
Ngeny, the first to run under 3:30.00 this season when he clocked 2:29.99 in Rome last week, finished comfortably ahead of France's Driss Maazouzi, second in 3:32.41 and Canadian Kevin Sullivan, third in 3:32.60.
There was a disappointing return for Sergey Bubka in the pole vault, as the Tsar no-heighted at 5.60, along with reigning world champion Maksim Tarasov. Victory went to Dmitry Markov (AUS) with 5;85m.