SEARCH 2000 Games

Friday, September 22, 2000

The heat was on

Canadian sprinters unimpressive in early qualifying

 SYDNEY - Donovan Bailey waved.

 He also smiled.

 It was a weak wave.

 It was a sad smile.

 His trip through the mixed zone, after an unimpressive third-place trip of 10.39 in his 100- metre heat, was faster than his trip down the track.

 He waved.

 He smiled.

 He left.

 End of report. End of era.

 Bruny Surin trudged by. He didn't wave. He didn't smile.

 He offered one comment as he walked through to sit in seclusion somewhere in Olympic Stadium and wait for a half an hour to find out if he was in or out after one round of qualifying.

 He had to wait

 Surin was fourth in his heat with a time of 10.41. Only the first three automatically qualify through to the second round. Surin had to wait until all 11 heats, with nine runners in each heat, had been run to find out that he'd made it through for another run.

 "Not good,'' he said on his trip through the mixed zone. "Not good at all.''

 And it may have gotten worse. He may have re-injured his hamstring in the heat

 Between the two of them, a grand total of six words.

 Surin, who hadn't raced since coming up with an injury at the Canadian championships in Victoria, looked better than Bailey at the finish line despite the fact he was slower and damn near missed moving to the next round.

 Surin was the final qualifier and got in ahead of Martin Lachovics of Austria, who had the same time, when they went to 1,000ths of a second.

 Bailey, who has been unimpressive all season battling back from injuries, looked terrible at practice the day before. And he didn't look much better after he was at least saved the embarrassment and humiliation of being a defending Olympic champion and Olympic record-holder bounced in the first round of qualifying.

 Given what we watched in the first heat, it was hard to imagine either of them getting through their next one into the semifinal, much less into the final.

 And after watching both of them struggle and the Great Greek Hope turn into the Great Greek Nope in his heat, it's impossible to believe Canada can put together a 4 x 100 relay team to defend their Atlanta gold medal either.

 Nicholas Macrozonaris sounded like he'd caught the disease which has come to be known as Malar-ia among Canadians at these Olympics.

 "I'm not disappointed. I'm not disappointed at all,'' he said.

 "This was enough. This was my Olympic moment. I'll use this experience and prepare for the Worlds in Edmonton next year.''

 The first IAAF World Championships In Athletics ever held in North America will provide a scene. But it won't be anything like this.

 There was every evidence that the scene ate up the 19-year-old boy wonder here.

 "It wasn't nervous, really,'' he said. "It was a different feeling. I don't know how to explain it.''

 There were 110,000 people in Olympic Stadium, most of them arriving an hour before the program, consisting almost entirely of heats, began.

 Australian fans, during the 400-metre heats, gave us the sound wave. Each section would burst into cheers as the runners passed their location.

 Like a lot of things we're experiencing at these Olympic Games, that's not likely to be repeated anywhere.

 Inexperience showed

 The 19-year-old who shocked the nation with his 10.19 at the Canadian championships in Victoria, ran a 10.45. And his inexperience showed in a lot of areas.

 "Travelling to the other side of the world ... it's tough,'' he said.

 He was happy.

 "I strained a hamstring a week and a half ago,'' he said. "It was a small injury, but I am happy. I am able to go home smiling instead of limping.

 "I'm happy. I learned a lot and I had a great experience.''

 The kid is so inexperienced he doesn't even know that it's not considered good form to say more than six words to the media and the fans back home after you race.