By Gene Cherry
RALEIGH, North Carolina, April 13 Reuters - TripleOlympic champion Marion Jones said today she wouldcherish gold medals from August’s Athens Games morehighly than those she won four years ago.
It would mean more to win golds in Athens thanSydney because of so much that has happened in my lifesince Sydney and so many obstacles that I haveovercome,'' Jones said in an interview on NBCtelevision's Today show. Jones, now a 28-year-old mother, could challenge forfive gold medals again in Athens but will delay adecision until after the US Olympic trials in July. She is determined to enter the 100 and 200 metres andlong jump and may seek to run in the 4x100 and4x400-metre relays. She did all five in 2000, winningthree golds and two bronzes. But Jones added: I am disappointed in my performancein Sydney.
It was a great experience, don't get me wrong, but Iwent there to get the whole kabang, everything.'' Jones begins her run-up for Athens on Sunday with a400 metre race at the Mount San Antonio College Relaysin Walnut, California. It will be her first outdoor racein 19 months. She took 2003 off to give birth to a son, Monty, whosefather is Jones's training partner Tim Montgomery, theworld 100 metres record holder. She returned tocompetition over the winter, racing twice indoors andwinning her first long jump since the 2000 Games. Since Sydney, she has divorced shot putter C.J.Hunter, whose positive test for steroids was announcedat the Games, left long-time coach Trevor Graham andworked briefly with banned Canadian coach CharlieFrancis before turning to American coach Dan Pfaff. She and Montgomery were called to testify last yearbefore a federal grand jury looking into a Californialaboratory suspected of producing a new designersteroid. Jones repeated in the interview that she had nevertaken steroids. She also said people had formed thewrong opinion because she had been called to testify. I never have and I never will (takeperformance-enhancing drugs),’’ Jones said.
I havebeen blessed with an incredible amount of talent. Mywork ethic is second to none. And I don't feel the needto take any performance-enhancing drugs. It’s guilt by association,’’ she added, arguing thatsome people, in the media in particular, felt that bytestifying ``we must be guilty of something, which isnot the case’’.
By Gene Cherry