SYDNEY -- It gets longer from here, each remaining event in the unprecedented gold chain Marion Jones is trying to put together in Sydney requiring more distance, more effort and perhaps more competition.
At the same time, she made the gap between her and history shorter Saturday.
Jones won her first Olympic medal Saturday, the first of the five golds that are her unique goal in Sydney, running away from the field in the women's 100-meter dash at Olympic Stadium. Finishing in 10.75, she was nearly a half-second ahead of silver medalist Ekaterini Thanou, of Greece, while Jamaica's Tanya Lawrence took the bronze.
"I have a really big goal in Sydney, I think we all know that,'' said Jones, who will also run the 200-meters, the 4x100 and 4x200 relays and compete in the long jump. She is expected to at least contend for gold in all of them, "There was a lot of pressure coming into this and now that it's over, it's a big relief.''
Saturday's race was over shortly after it started.
Getting out to a good start, Jones already had a discernible lead after one-quarter of the race. She continued opening up space between her and the field during the short distance and ran the last 10 meters with the result as obvious as the smile on her face. After crossing the finish line, she celebrated excitedly, hopping about, shaking hands with fans and waving flags from the U.S. and Belize, where her mother was born.
"I've been sitting in my apartment the past couple of days, watching the Olympics and watching people win gold, and I vowed, when I crossed the line, I would keep my cool,'' said Jones, who has been in Sydney since before the opening ceremonies. "Then, when I crossed that line, all that was out the window.
"This is 19 years of believing and dreaming about this and it all comes down to one moment. It was an incredible experience and everything I dreamed about.''
And she means, literally, dreamed.
She says she didn't sleep much the night before her first Olympic race, but when she did, she saw herself in the 100m. Funny, but she won then, too.
"I think this was the easiest event,'' said Jones' husband, U.S. Olympic shot putter C.J. Hunter. "We're confident. She's confident. Not anything against the other girls, but I know how she trains and I know how she runs. I thought she would run faster than that.''
The 10.75 was fast enough for Jones. It was .26 seconds off Florence Griffith-Joyner's world record and .15 off Griffith-Joyner's Olympic mark. Jones' best time of the 2000 season despite being into a slight wind, it was .37 better than Thanou's.
And it was good enough for her first gold medal, perhaps the first in a stack of them Jones earns by the end of the week.
"Finally, all of the bad days back in Raleigh, the hard days and the cold days, were worth something,'' said Jones, who played basketball at North Carolina before conentrating on track. She chose not to attend the 1992 Olympic Trials at the age of 16 and missed the '96 Games with an injury. "Then I saw my family and I lost it, because they are the people who have always been there and supported me. My support system has grown over the years, but they were there at the start.''
Saturday, they might have been there at the successful start of something big in Sydney for Jones.
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