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Keeping up with Jones

Despite a few detours, the sprinter is still on track

By Joanna Myth

  Click for larger image Jones vows to remew her winning streak  Bill Frakes
The news from the track and field world championships last month was startling. After 54 consecutive wins, Marion Jones lost. Twice. Once in a 100-meter semifinal and again in the final. For the past four years Jones had been a portrait of consistency, grinding all comers while setting record times. Recently, however, she has begun to allow a little air into her life and schedule. Jones started working as a color commentator for WNBA broadcasts on NBC in July, pulling insight from her stellar career as an All-America point guard at North Carolina. (Yes, she can dunk.) "It keeps me in the game, and I get to check in with some of my teammates from college who play in the league," she says. "But I have a ways to go as an announcer." And she is newly single, having filed for divorce from shot-putter C.J. Hunter in June. "It's been a distraction," Jones says. "It will be good to have it done with."

Not that anyone now expects the world's most famous female athlete to relax, exactly. She is formidable enough that when the 330-pound Hunter tested positive for drugs just before the Sydney Games, he wept at the idea of Jones finding out. "Don't tell my wife, please," he begged officials. And so desirous is Jones of doing her best and obliterating all records in the process, that anything short of perfection carries the sting of loss. Arranging herself in front of the cameras in Sydney, a quintet of freshly won Olympic medals on her chest, Jones tucked the bronze medals behind the three gold, leaving only a thin crescent of the offending color. It was a poignant, if telling moment -- Jones, after all, had just become the first woman to win five track and field medals in a single Olympics. But among the many new things in Marion Jones's life these days seems to be her ability to appreciate her gifts. When they handed out the medals after the world championships, Jones grabbed the surprise silver and glittered it for the cameras, beaming. And then, of course, she told the press she'd be back, kicking butt. "I'm a champion, and I like to win."

For more from our Adrenaline section -- including Tiffeny Milbrett's critique of the WUSA's debut, the latest in energy bars, surfing, and more -- check out Sports Illustrated Women's September issue, on newsstands now.

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