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Despite 6th-place finish, Stevens has golden future Morgan State sprinter on endorsement track


BARCELONA, Spain -- Rochelle Stevens has an agent named Edwin Moses, a new endorsement deal with Maybelline and a couple of lucrative appearance fees lined up on the European racing circuit.

But last night, all the 1988 Morgan State graduate wanted was a place on the medal stand.

Instead, Stevens had to settle for sixth place in the 400 meters.

Running in Lane 1, fatigued after three rounds of racing in searing heat and humidity, Stevens finished in 50.11 seconds, far behind gold medalist Marie-Jose Perec of France (48.83).

"Like everyone, I wanted to finish in the top three," Stevens said. "But sixth wasn't bad. At least I was in the final."

Stevens has gotten a career boost this summer, and she says she owes it all to her mother, Beatrice Holloway, who has coached her to the best times of her career.

"Sixth place in the world isn't bad at all," Holloway said last night.

Two months ago, Stevens was still a relative unknown in the United States. But then she won the 400 meters at the U.S. trials.

Stevens' performance caught the attention of Moses, the two-time Olympic gold-medal hurdler now embarking on a career as an agent. Endorsement offers came in. So did promises of first-class tickets to first-rate meets.

"A gold medal would have been the ultimate way to sell Rochelle," Moses said. "But we think being brainy and classy will help Rochelle do well over the long term."

Plus, she still could win a medal in the 4 x 400 relay on Saturday.

In yesterday's final, Stevens found herself placed in Lane 1, a difficult spot that required her to pace herself while running tight turns.

"It didn't bother me," Stevens said. "I kind of stumbled coming out of the blocks. I did my best. I felt like I was pushing a little harder. But close to the finish, I got tired."

She faded in the closing steps, but walked off the track smiling.

"I'm glad it's over," she said. "There was a lot of pressure here. I can't even think."

"This is a very good international experience for her," Moses said. "The world championships are next year, and, hopefully, there, she can start to win some golds."

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