Dragila, Johnson take Goodwill gold

Posted: Thursday, September 06, 2001

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- Stacy Dragila didn't have a logical explanation for her performance. Then again, she didn't need one.

Allen Johnson couldn't understand why his legs felt so rubbery. He didn't need an explanation, either.

Dwain Chambers was dumbfounded to explain his stunning effort. It wasn't necessary.

And Kenyon Martin couldn't figure out how he missed a shot. It didn't matter.

That's because they all came away winners at the Goodwill Games Wednesday.

Dragila, the world record-holder in the women's pole vault at 15 feet, 9 1/4 inches, cleared only 14-11.

Despite his wobbly legs, Johnson had enough energy to win the 110-meter hurdles, beating archrival Anier Garcia of Cuba by .04 seconds in 13.16 seconds.

Chambers, the unheralded Briton, charged from the blocks and won the 100 meters, beating a field that included world silver medalist Tim Montgomery in 10.11.

Martin, the New Jersey Nets' power forward, hit 8-of-9 shots and scored 19 points, leading the unbeaten United States basketball team to its third victory, 111-70, and a semifinal berth.

Dragila didn't blame her subpar performance on the cold, occasionally rainy weather.

''Things just didn't go together tonight,'' she said. ''I felt good coming in. I warmed up well, then I felt flat. I just couldn't get my tires pumped up. I couldn't get off the ground. It didn't seem like my poles would bend properly. It didn't flow.''

Johnson and Cuba's Anier Garcia, the 2000 Olympic champion, were even after the last hurdle, but ''I outran him to the finish line,'' Johnson said.

''It was tough,'' he added. ''My legs felt like spaghetti at the finish, and I almost fell.''

Chambers beat the favorites out of the blocks and held off Montgomery's late kick. Injured world champion Maurice Greene watched from a TV commentators' booth.

Montgomery, the world silver medalist, started slowly but finished second in 10.27. Ato Boldon of Trinidad & Tobago managed only fifth in 10.41.

Chambers ran 9.99 at last month's world championships but placed fifth. Greene won in 9.82 there, .03 seconds ahead of Montgomery.

''I was dumbstruck that I was out of the blocks first and then put away everybody,'' Chambers said. ''Beating Ato Boldon and Tim Montgomery is special. ... I never expected to win today.''

''It was very cold,'' said Montgomery, who has run 9.84 this year. ''The times were terrible.''

On the basketball court, Martin led a U.S. dunking exhibition against Cuba.

''They were all dunks,'' Martin said of his entertaining assortment of shots. ''I don't remember missing one shot.''

The Americans have outscored their three opponents 340-195, including a record 74-point victory over Mexico.

''It's not a very competitive tournament and that makes it hard,'' said Wally Szczerbiak of the Minnesota Timberwolves. ''We're just playing and having fun. We're trying to put on a show for the fans.''

The U.S. team made six dunks in the first quarter, racing to a 37-11 lead that contrasted with their sluggish start in the two previous games. They scored 12 straight points for a 16-2 advantage, then closed the period with an 11-1 run.

The Americans next meet Brazil, a 63-52 winner over Canada.

Argentina also reached the final four, beating Mexico 105-77. The Argentines' only loss in three preliminary round games was 97-67 to the U.S. Their semifinal opponent is Australia, an 81-62 winner over New Zealand. Australia, Brazil and New Zealand all finished at 2-1, but Australia and Brazil had better point ratios.

In figure skating, world champion Evgeni Plushenko of Russia skated a technically advanced short program and took the opening night lead. American Michael Weiss was second, ahead of Russia's Alexei Yagudin, the three-time world champion, who smashed into the boards after missing a combination.

In pairs, world silver medalists Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze finished the short program ahead of another Russian pair, Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov, and the Polish team of Dorota Zagorska and Mariusz Siudek.

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