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Medal harvest pays off again for Jones

Marion Jones failed to reach her goal of five gold medals at the Sydney Games. All she did was win more medals than any female track athlete had at a single Olympics.

That record-setting haul _ three golds, two bronzes _ in a personally stormy month was enough for Jones to be chosen as the Associated Press female athlete of the year.

In balloting by sports writers and broadcasters, Jones received 27 first-place votes and 112 points, edging tennis' Venus Williams, runner-up with 16{ firsts and 104{ points. Golfer Karrie Webb was third with 30 points. Points were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis.

Last year's winner, the U.S. soccer team, didn't receive any votes.

Jones, 24, was the 10th woman track and field athlete to win the honor since the award was inaugurated in 1931, and the first since the late Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988.

Jones earned golds in the 100 and 200 meters and the 1,600 relay, the bronzes in the long jump and 400 relay.

"I set out to do something that a lot of people thought I couldn't do," Jones said. "I didn't get everything I wanted, but I didn't give in. I had a great shot and it didn't pan out. I can live with that."

Those bronzes could have been golds, Jones said.

"That gold medal was there for the taking in the long jump," she said. "And in the (400) relay, we had some injuries (Gail Devers and Inger Miller). We didn't have our best horses.

"I wanted to win them all, and I still think it's possible. But I didn't, so I'm not going to dwell on that."

The 400 relay team didn't practice together until the day of the race.

Jones' prediction, made two years in advance of the Sydney Games, earned her a lot of publicity, something she will avoid for the 2004 Olympics.

"I've vowed not to make a prediction such as the five golds, especially not four years prior to the next Games," Jones said. "But whatever I choose to do, I'll try to make it as extraordinary as possible."

The performances by Jones at Sydney were even more extraordinary, considering what was going on around her.

Track world body, the IAAF, said midway through the Games that her husband, 1999 world shot put champion C.J. Hunter, tested positive for the steroid nandrolone four times after the U.S. Olympic trials. The disclosure came two days after Jones' victory in the 100, meaning she had to compete in four events with that distraction.

"It was very unfortunate timing," Jones said.

HORSE RACING: Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens remained in critical condition, four days after collapsing at his home with severe stomach pains. The 71-year-old Jerkens was in the intensive-care unit at Aventura Hospital, near Gulfstream Park. Hospital officials would neither confirm nor deny a report in the Daily Racing Form that Jerkins had pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. His family could not be reached for comment. Pompeii won for the fifth time in 10 starts this year, surging to a 5{-length victory in the $52,000 allowance feature at Aqueduct. The 3-year-old filly, ridden by Joe Bravo and carrying 120 pounds, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:43 3/5 on a fast track. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks while he recovers from four broken ribs and a punctured lung. He was injured during a spill Saturday at Aqueduct.

FIGURE SKATING: Nailing a tricky combination of jumps, Yevgeny Plushchenko won his third consecutive national title at the Russian Championships in Moscow. Second place went to Aleksei Yagudin, the three-time world champion. Alexander Abt, second after the short program, slipped to third, where he finished last year. In pairs competition, former world champions Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze took the lead after the short program even though both fell on a triple toe loop. Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbukh remained in the lead of the ice dance competition after the original dance. The top three finishers in all events earn spots for the European Championship in February in Slovakia.

SAILING: Nicorette and Wild Thing contended for the lead in the Sydney-to-Hobart race in Australia, in which 10 boats dropped out amid rough conditions. Shockwave, the favorite and early leader, was among those abandoning the race as the 82-yacht fleet approached Bass Strait between the mainland and Tasmania. The first yachts are not expected to reach the finish in Hobart until Friday or early Saturday. Organizers said conditions had eased marginally for the remaining 72 yachts, with gale-force winds downgraded to a strong wind warning.

_ Compiled from Times wires.