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Friday, August 11, 2000

Bailey: Relay will 'do it again'

  VICTORIA, B.C. -- Donovan Bailey is relay optimistic about Canada's chances of winning gold at the Sydney Olympics.

 The Oakville sprinter yesterday all but guaranteed that the men's 4x100-metre relay squad would defend its Olympic title next month.

 "We established this legacy of having probably the most feared relay team on the planet," Bailey said at a news conference to trumpet this weekend's Canadian track and field championships. "(And) I'm not satisfied with anything less than a gold medal.

 "We've done it before and we'll do it again. We will be prepared to win in Sydney."

 How the fearsome foursome will win is another question. Putting the odds in perspective, one track insider suggested that it's difficult to win the Kentucky Derby on a Clydesdale, even a well-trained one.

 Dan Pfaff, who coaches Bailey, as well as Montreal sprinter Bruny Surin and Brampton high jumper Mark Boswell, is hopeful the Canadian team can win another Olympic gold in the relay but doubts it will happen unless at least two other guys step up with solid times.

 Only one Canadian -- Bailey -- has run a 100-metre race this season in under 10 seconds. Surin, who won the silver medal in the 100 at last year's world championships in 9.84, has posted a season-best 10.08.

 After that, the depth on the Canadian squad drops dramatically. The No.3 man is Toronto's Pierre Browne, who is ranked No. 88 in the world with a personal best of 10.24.

 Pfaff, considered one of the top track and field coaches in the world, said even the best prepared relay squad needs pure speed to go along with cohesion. And Canada just does not have four guys who can burn up the track. Yet.

 "In my opinion, we have to see people capable of velocities in the 10-teens or low 10.20s to have a medal shot," Pfaff said.

 HOPE FOR THE BEST

 That likely won't happen, so the Canadian team will have to prepare well and hope for the best -- perhaps the U.S. squad making one of its famous miscues with the baton.

 But there is good news, and that was visible yesterday, with Surin and Bailey sitting side by side, trading jokes and giggling.

 These guys are supposed to be at each other's throats, bitter over who will run the anchor in Sydney, and who was to blame for last year's relay implosion at the world championships when the order was changed, leading to a bad handoff and a disqualification in the semi-finals.

 Both sprinters put a positive spin on the great relay controversy, denying reports that there is bad blood. Team officials said that, as far as the order of the relay is concerned, they will cross that bridge later. However, the question remains: Who will run the anchor, Bailey, as traditionally is the case, or Surin, who has proved to be the fastest of the two in the past year?

 "There you are, starting that again," Surin said with a laugh.