Originally created 09/06/98

Jones caps unbeaten season with six-figure payday



MOSCOW -- Not bad for 10.83 seconds of work.

That's how long Marion Jones needed to win the 100 meters Saturday at the IAAF Grand Prix Finals and earn more than $600,000 on track and field's biggest payday, capping a spectacular, undefeated season.

Jones, who only committed to the sport last year, also won the long jump about an hour earlier, improving to 35-for-35 for all her events in 1998.

"I know anybody's capable of challenging me, so I have to make sure I'm on each time," said Jones, who overcame a slow start to beat Sevatheda Fynes of the Bahamas by .27 seconds in the 100.

That victory gave Jones one-third of the $1 million Golden League jackpot, in addition to $200,000 for the women's overall Grand Prix title and $50,000 for the race win. She got another $50,000 by winning the long jump at 23 feet, 4Ü inches, on a cool, overcast day at Luzhniki Olympic Stadium.

Jones shared the jackpot -- for athletes who win their events at all six Golden League meets plus the GP Finals -- with Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco and Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, who also remained unbeaten for the year with dominating wins.

World champion and record-holder El Guerrouj ran the final lap of the 1,500 alone and won in 3:32.03. Gebrselassie took the 3,000 in a relatively slow 7:50.00.

"It doesn't matter if the money was there or not," said Gebrselassie, who extended his outdoor winning streak to 20 races. "The most important thing is to win and be the best."

Jones certainly fits that description.

After putting aside basketball -- she helped North Carolina win the 1994 NCAA championship -- Jones burst onto the scene with U.S. and world titles in the 100 last year. She has said her goal is winning five gold medals at the 2000 Olympics -- in the 100, 200, long jump, 400 relay and 1,600 relay.

"I'm not going to blow everyone away just by walking on the track," Jones said. "But I am very confident."

For the first time this season, she had to compete in the long jump before the 100 -- then had to endure four false starts in the 100. But she was still unbeatable.

"It was unfortunate to have all those (false starts)," she said. "I just tried to shake each one off and refocus."

She finished the Grand Prix season with 130 points, 23 more than overall runner-up Svetlana Masterkova of Russia, who won the women's 1,500 in 4:03.79.

El Guerrouj was among the athletes who had asked organizers to switch venues because of the financial and political crisis in Russia. But he showed up.

"We were a little worried, but once we arrived everything was fine," he said.

He won the men's overall Grand Prix title with 136 points, 22 more than Gebrselassie.

The only other athlete in contention for the Golden League jackpot before Saturday was Bryan Bronson, but he faded to sixth in the 400 hurdles as France's Stephane Diagana won in 48.30. Bronson lost steam coming off the next-to-last hurdle and struggled home sixth in 48.94, snapping a 17-race unbeaten streak.

All event winners received $50,000 as the International Amateur Athletic Federation handed out a total of about $4.2 million.

Russia's Natalya Sadova won the women's discus with a season-best 224-9.

Other women's winners were Gete Wami in the 3,000, Michelle Freeman in the 100 hurdles, Falilat Ogunkoya in the 400 and Tanja Damaske in the javelin.

Among the men, the winners included Hungary's Tibor Gecsek in the hammer throw, Frankie Fredericks in the 100, world record-holder Javier Sotomayor in the high jump, Maksim Tarasov in the pole vault, Charles Friedek in the triple jump, world champion John Godina in the shot put, and Mark Richardson in the 400.

World and Olympic champion Michael Johnson, citing fatigue, did not enter the 400.