SACRAMENTO - Maurice Greene has been down this road before. For Tiombe Hurd, winning gold at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on Sunday was not only a record-setting experience, it went beyond explanation.
"I cannot explain how good it feels the moment you find out you're an Olympian," Hurd said after winning the women's triple jump with an American record 47-feet, 5-inches. "Being an Olympian and knowing I'm going to Athens is all I've been waiting for the last four years."
Meanwhile, Greene set the pace in an impressive men's 100-meter final, defending his Olympic Trials title with an Olympic Trials record-setting 9.91 seconds to nose out Justin Gatlin and Shawn Crawford before an announced crowd of 22,107 at Sacramento State University's Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.
Gatlin finished second (9.92) and Crawford third (9.93) in what stands as the fastest men's 100 in Olympic Trials history. It also could serve as a preview of things to come when the Olympics are held in Athens on Aug. 13-29 - at least if you were to ask Greene.
"My goal is to go 1-2-3 and show the world we have the best team and sprinters," said Greene, who won gold in the 100 in Sydney four years ago. "The only way we'll lose the 4x100 (relay) is if we drop the stick or don't get it around."
Added Crawford, whose 9.88 ranks as the fastest time in the world in 2004, "We have the three best sprinters in the world representing us in Athens."
Coby Miller finished fourth in 9.99, just six-one hundredths away from qualifying. World record holder Tim Montgomery finished seventh in 10.13.
Hurd placed third at the 2000 Olympic Trials behind Nicole Gamble and Sheila Hudson, but was unable to compete in Sydney because she lacked an "A-qualifying" Olympic mark. This time she didn't have to take a back seat to anyone - not even the American record of 46-8 1/4 set by Hudson in 1996.
After fouling on her first two jumps, Hurd came back on her next attempt to move into second-place behind Vanitta Kinard. Then in the fourth round, Hurd popped her record-setting jump.
"I was very scared after my first two jumps," Hurd said. "I just looked down the runway for my third jump. I said a prayer and I knew the Lord would not bring me this far to be out of medal contention."
As soon as the competition ended and Hurd had victory in hand, she ran over to the grandstands and embraced her father.
Shakeema Walker finished second at 46-1 1/2. Kinard took third with a 45-0 1/2 jump on an emotional day.
"I lost my mom, who was murdered in March," Walker said. "I feel like I won because I know my mom was watching over me in heaven. I feel like I defeated so much to get here."
Unfortunately, her personal record jump was still nine inches short of the "A-qualifying" for the Olympic Games.
"I'm very, very confident," she said. "I only have about seven centimeters to get it. I've overcome so much already. I know I can get those seven centimeters."
In other finals on Sunday, Sheena Johnson won the women's 400-meter hurdles in an Olympic Trials record 52.95, James Carter won the men's 400 hurdles (47.68), Kim Kreiner won the women's javelin (182-7) and Dwight Phillips won the men's long jump (27-2).
Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or 881-1220.