By Andrea Adelson
NEW YORK, June 4 - Marion Jones is quick to squelch the notion that her comeback is complete.
Sure, three wins in three races this year have done plenty for her confidence. But Jones knows she still has plenty of work to do if she wants to be a US champion again.
Beating a world-class field in New York at the Reebok Grand Prix on Saturday certainly showed she has a chance to reclaim her spot as one of the elite Americans.
Jones easily won the 100 metres in 11.06 seconds in wet and chilly conditions, proving she is more than capable of winning again at the national championships, which start June 21 in Indianapolis.
It's another stepping stone,'' Jones said. The most important thing is nationals in a few weeks. I feel I’m on target, I’m on track. These next three weeks I have to gear up.’’
The 30-year-old Jones returned last month after an 11-month layoff filled with injuries (edit). [and what about the baby???!! :eek: ]
She looks leaner, fitter and more muscular than the last time she went to the US championships, when she withdrew from the 100 preliminaries last year with a hip injury.
Clearly invigorated from her subpar performances the last two years, Jones has come back with renewed vigour, trying to improve on her ugly times and losses from 2004 and 2005.
She also wants to run the 200 in Indianapolis, and plans to run a warmup race in that event in Europe this week.
``I took all of those losses, put them in a bag and shook it up,’’ said Jones, who won five medals at the 2000 Olympics.
``Every time I get tired in training, I peek in and realise it’s not fun when you’re third, fourth, fifth. When I got back to the track, I had renewed motivation.’’
Her best time of 11.06 this season is fourth fastest in the world and tied for the second fastest by an American this year, behind the 11.04 that Allyson Felix ran in April.
Though 11.06 is somewhat modest, that time would have won the US championships last year. Lisa Barber won the title in 11.10.
Taking a look at the rest of the top contenders in the 100, Jones could have an edge even though she is older than her top competitors.
Felix is the reigning US and world champion in the 200, her signature event. She has been battling a hamstring injury and it is unknown whether she will attempt to run in the 100 and 200.
Qualifying in the 100 starts June 22, with the final June 23. Qualifying in the 200 starts June 24.
Reigning 100 world champion Lauryn Williams has had mediocre times this year and is battling a respiratory infection she picked up at the Penn Relays in April.
She was fifth in New York in 11.44 in her second 100 race of the year.
Her first was in Qatar last month when she was second in 11.18. She pulled out of the Prefontaine Classic last week because she was sick.
``I’m disappointed, but I’m trying not to panic,’’ Williams said.
Barber also has a top time of 11.06, which she ran in Carson, California, last month. Former world champion Torri Edwards, back after serving a 15-month suspension (edit) has a top time of 11.08 but was third in New York in 11.23.
Muna Lee, who was second at nationals last year, has a top time of 11.13.
Those performances might give Jones hope to win her fifth US title in the 100 and first since 2002.
When you're winning and running fast, the questions are about the race. When you're getting beat, they want to talk about all this other stuff,'' she said. Hopefully as I get better, the questions will be less and less. I want my performances to speak for themselves.’’