Tue, Jul 20, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Veterans outshine teenagers at US track and field trials

AP , SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA

Veterans Gail Devers and Stacy Dragila were the stars on the last day of US Olympic track and field trials that had mostly been a showcase for teenagers, collegians and other first-time Olympians.

The 37-year-old Devers became just the third US track and field athlete -- joining Carl Lewis and Willye White -- to make her fifth Olympic team, winning the 100m hurdles by less than the length of her trademark fingernails.

"I've been there, done that before, but each time is like a new experience for me," said Devers, who has been at every Summer Olympics since 1988. "I try to look at it as though it's my first time."

Dragila, the defending Olympic champion, won the women's pole vault but failed in three attempts to break the world record. She missed at 4.89m, which would have topped Svetlana Feofanova's mark of 4.88m set earlier this month.

But there were still plenty of triumphs on Sunday for the younger generation.

Allyson Felix, 18, won the women's 200m and Muna Lee, 22, was second. Shawn Crawford, 26, won the men's 200 and Justin Gatlin, 22, was second. Crawford and Gatlin also will run the 100 at the Athens Games.

Alan Webb, 21, won the men's 1,500m and will try to end a 36-year US Olympic medal drought in that event. But Webb had a far easier time Sunday than he can expect at the Athens Games.

Webb pulled away from the field to win by more than two seconds. But his time of 3 minutes, 36.13 seconds was just the 86th fastest in the world this year -- and only the fourth best for Webb this season.

"Why can't US milers do better on the international scene?" Webb asked. "The answer is for Alan Webb to go out, run and try to beat as many guys as I can -- not just in the US, but in the rest of the world."

The last American to win an Olympic medal in the 1,500m was Jim Ryun, who earned silver at the 1968 Mexico City Games.

Devers, who won her 10th national title, edged Joanna Hayes in a photo finish. Devers, who joked to the crowd that "it feels like 50 years" that she's been competing, was timed in 12.547 seconds and Hayes in 12.549.

Devers, a three-time world champion, will be trying again to win her first Olympic medal in the hurdles despite being the world's best in that event for most of the past decade.

Terrence Trammell won the men's 110m hurdles in 13.09. Duane Ross was second and world champion Allen Johnson was third.

In other events Sunday, the eighth day of the trials, Carrie Tollefson won the women's 1,500m -- but still needs to reach the Olympic qualifying standard to make it to Athens.

Jamie Nieto won the men's high jump, Jarred Rome won the men's discus and 41-year-old Teresa Vaill won the women's 20-kilometer walk.

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