By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun
SYDNEY -- A dark cloud settled over the Olympic Stadium last night as Canada's sprinters flirted with disaster.
Montreal's Bruny Surin, the 1999 world championship silver medallist, placed fourth in his heat.
His 10.41 was just good enough to get him into the quarter-finals early this morning (about 6 EDT).
"Not good. Not good at all," said a sombre Surin, who walked past the media scrum without stopping. Surin -- who ran a 9.84 at the '99 worlds -- appeared to be limping slightly.
Canadian officials said he aggravated a hamstring injury and was set have an MRI early this morning. His status for the quarters appeared to be in doubt.
Oakville's Donovan Bailey, the defending Olympic 100-metre champion, finished third in his heat in 10.39 and also barely qualified for the quarters.
Bailey, 32, did not look impressive and he also trudged past reporters, offering only a wave.
Surin tied Austrian Martin Lachkovics for the 40th and last qualifying spot, but the Canadian advanced after race officials broke down the times to 1/1000ths of a second. Surin's was determined to be 10.404, with the Austrian in at 10.409.
Canada's third entry in the 100, Nicolas Macrozonaris, 20, was eliminated in the heats. The newcomer from Montreal crossed the line in 10.45.
The big question now is, what kind of unit will Canada be able to put forward for next weekend's 4x100-metre relay?
It's entirely possible that Surin will withdraw from the Games. Bailey could be gone, too. That would leave only four runners, for two heats and a final: Macrozonaris, Toronto's Pierre Browne, Brad McCuaig of Calgary and Glenroy Gilbert to defend Canada's title. Other than Ottawa's Gilbert, none has big-race experience.
Bailey and Surin have been struggling to recover from hamstring injuries. Surin, 33, suffered his last month at the Canadian championships. Last night's event was his first race since.
The former world indoor 60-metre champion declared himself 95% fit heading into last night's race, but he looked rusty and sore.
Bailey hurt his hamstring in June at Stockholm and has not come anywhere near matching his early season promise, when he nailed a 9.98 in Switzerland. However, many felt he recorded that time with the help of an undetected false start. He almost pulled out of the heats last night because of a viral infection that has laid him low in recent days. It has been a rough couple of years for Bailey, who ruptured an Achilles tendon in 1998.
Macrozonaris, who stunned the Canadian track community by running a 10.19 at the national championships in Victoria, also has been suffering from a hamstring problem and a viral infection. Macrozonaris strained his ham last week at the team's pre-Olympic training camp. As for his first taste of Olympic action, Macrozonaris felt relieved and slightly satisfied.
"You cannot expect me as a 20-year-old, who just came into the sport a couple of years ago, to make miracles. I know I dropped a bomb on the Canadian track world, but in the world it's going to take a little more time. I need to get a little bit older and a little bit more experience."
"I achieved by making the team, and running on the track," Macrozonaris said. "I learned very, very big valuable lessons and I won't be forgetting that."
Trinidad's Ato Boldon, a double sprint bronze medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Games, qualified fastest for the quarters in 10.04. World-record holder Maurice Greene of the U.S. won his heat in 10.31. He is the odds-on favourite to win the final tomorrow morning.