Williams comes up short in run for gold

THE BALTIMORE SUN

SAINT-DENIS, France -- Kim Collins' smile seemed to stretch from here to the Caribbean. Bernard Williams' frown told a different story.

As Collins, the 27-year-old TCU graduate from St. Kitts and Nevis, was giving his tiny island nation its greatest sports moment with a triumph in the 100-meter final at the world championships last night at the Stade de France, Baltimore's Williams was turning in a subpar performance that put him sixth in the eight-man final and made him very unhappy.

But, oh, how close it was.

The first six runners swooped over the finish line within six hundredths of a second of each other. Collins, running out of the difficult first lane, led the way in 10.07 seconds.

Williams, in the sixth lane, got off to a ragged start and settled for sixth in 10.13, far off the career-best 9.94 he posted in 1999.

Between them were Trinidad and Tobago's Darrel Brown, the world junior record holder; Britons Darren Campbell and Dwain Chambers, and Williams' U.S. teammate, Tim Montgomery.

Oh, how slow it was, too.

Brown, Campbell and Chambers shared 10.08 clockings, millimeters apart; Montgomery (who set a world record of 9.78 last September) ran a 10.11.

It all added up to the slowest 100-meter final in the 20-year-history of this track and field showcase event.

Whatever the explanation -- the new false start rule that gives virtually every big-time sprinter a case of the jitters, the consistency of the track surface, and the atmospherics of the evening top the list of guesses -- the facts are clear.

Not since Carl Lewis' 10.07 in Helsinki in 1983 has a world champion failed to break 10 seconds.

Just once in world championships history (1995) has the United States been kept off the 100-meter medal stand.

"The time doesn't have much to do with it," said Collins, whose world championship was the first for St. Kitts and Nevis. "We were all out there together. We all ran on the same track. We're all going to be on the list [of medalists] no matter what anybody says.

"Anything can happen in this event and tonight it did. Put these guys back on the track and run this race over and it could be very different. Everybody fires up at different times."

The intensity his rivals exude doesn't seem to be written into Collins' game plan.

"Me, I'm not one of those hard-working sprinters," he said. "If I want to take off a day [from training], I will. I don't lift weights. I don't pump iron. I'm just an easygoing guy."

TCU coach Monte Stratton said, "Kim ran a perfect race. He had a wonderful start. And he's always consistent. Whether it's a third-grade picnic or the Olympics, he'll give you the same effort."

Williams didn't say a word after the final, rushing through the media "mixed zone" under the stands.

It also wasn't a good day for Anjanette Kirkland, Williams' fiancM-ie and mother of their 4-month-old daughter, Jadin. Defending world champion in the women's 100-meter hurdles but running her first race of the year, she was a distant seventh in her first-round trial.

Just three hours before the men's 100 final, you'd never have been able to predict the eventual result. Williams looked unbeatable and Collins quite shaky in their semifinal.

Williams, the Carver High and Barton County College (Kan.) graduate who took a Sydney Olympic gold medal in the 4x100 relay, breezed to a semifinal victory in 10.11, shutting down in the final meters.

He beat Montgomery's 10.14 as Collins was snaring the fourth and final place in the final with a 10.16.

Three-time 100-meter world champion Maurice Greene -- trying to go one up on 1983-'87-'91 three-peater Carl Lewis -- never came close.

He limped to an eighth-place finish with a 10.37 in the other semifinal and may have run himself out of the U.S. 4x100-meter relay team lineup (which will feature Williams on Saturday and Sunday).

"The Americans should have fire in their eyes," Collins said.

Greene's fourth title just wasn't to be.

The 29-year-old from Kansas City, Kan., who set a world record of 9.79 in 2000 in Athens, Greece, said, "I got a great start, but as soon as I got out of the blocks, I felt a small pop in my [left] quad muscle. I kept trying to push but I couldn't keep it up all the way.

"I was feeling fine before the race, I felt fine [in the quarterfinals] yesterday. I am not even thinking of the relays right now. I will not try to run until this totally heals."

The United States went without a medal for the day as two-time women's world pole vault champion Stacy Dragila settled for fourth (at 14 feet, 11 inches) in an event won by Russia's Svetlana Feofanova (15-7).

Kenta Bell took sixth in the men's triple jump (56-0 1/2 ) and Jim Nieto wound up seventh in the high jump (7-6).

Suzanne Powell was ninth in the women's discus throw (196-4.)

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