Athletics: Shock defeat for Jones after 55 straight victories

by NEIL WILSON, Daily Mail

Marion Jones was beaten twice in two-and-a-half hours last night as Zhanna Pintusevich-Block took the 100metres gold at the World Athletics Championships in Edmonton.

Olympic champion Jones, who last lost over 100m in September 1997 - 55 races previously - was edged out in the semi-finals by the Ukrainian, who repeated the feat in the final, winning in 10.82sec. Ekaterini Thanou of Greece was third in 10.91.

Immediately after crossing the line, Pintusevich-Block sank to her knees and was then embraced by Jones, who took silver in 10.85.

Pintusevich-Block said: 'This is unbelievable. I felt I could do it because I have been running well this season but, of course, you never know until you cross the finish line.

'I thought I could beat Marion after the semi-final but I knew it was still going to be difficult.' Pintusevich-Block, already world champion at 200m, took three-hundredths of a second off her personal best.

She said she would wait a day before deciding whether to run the longer distance this year.

Jones was seeking to emulate fellow American Maurice Greene's performance the previous day of winning a third 100m world title but the wheels came off the most powerful vehicle in women's sprinting spectacularly at the crucial hours.

'I'm a bit disappointed but I am not a sore loser and you have to give credit to Zhanna,' said Jones, who was last beaten by Jamaica's Merlene Ottey. 'She was the better performer today.'

Defeat capped a traumatic 12 months for the 25-year-old. In the midst of Jones's attempt to win five golds at the Sydney Olympics, her husband C.J. Hunter was exposed as a drugs cheat. They separated in February and she has since filed for divorce.

Jones's turbulent domestic life persuaded her to restrict her competitive programme this year. She decided not to enter the long jump or to run the 200m at these championships.

Pintusevich-Block's double win was sweet revenge. She ran Jones so close at the first of the American's world titles in Athens six years ago that she set off on a victory lap thinking she had taken the gold. Last night no-one called her back.

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