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OLDEST SPRINTER FALLS SHORT IN 200 SEMIFINAL

Floyd Heard's first Olympics is over.

At age 34, the oldest sprinter ever to make the U.S. Olympic team, Heard failed to advance past the semifinals in the 200 meters today. He finished sixth in his heat with a time of 20.45 seconds.

Heard, who this year surpassed his personal best set 13 years ago, said he was disappointed but not devastated. He'd already come much further than anyone had expected a few months ago.

"I'm happy," he said. "I wish I could have run a better race. I should have, but I'm happy."

Heard grew tired of the pressure of the sport and didn't compete at all in 1999. But he came back this year with a more relaxed outlook and found himself against one of the world's elite sprinters.

When Michael Johnson and Maurice Greene went out with injuries in the finals of the U.S. trials, Heard finished second to make the Olympic team for the first time. His time of 19.88 seconds surpassed his personal best of 19.95 set in 1997.

"I'm satisfied with my career," Heard said. "It's a shame I had to experience this at the end of my career, but I'm happy I made it."

Raising his arms to acknowledge the crowd's cheers, France's Claude Issorat fell off the medal stand today when he collected his silver medal for the men's 1,500-meter wheelchair race, an Olympic demonstration sport.

He was helped back into the chair; then, smiling, he wheeled himself back around the grass and up the short ramp.

"Unfortunately, with the obstacles they face, that is something that happens," said Wendy Gumbert, who trains gold medalist Saul Mendoza. "I gave him a hard time about it afterwards. He was definitely embarrassed that it happened."

Mendoza, of Mexico, won the race in an Olympic record time of 3 minutes, 6.75 seconds. Issorat came in second by 0.9 seconds, and Heinz Frei of Switzerland was third.

Special medal stands were brought in for the wheelchair racers. They were lower, with a ramp and a raised lip to keep the athletes from going off the front. But when Issorat raised his hands, his front wheels came off the platform and over the lip.

Australian rower Rachael Taylor was up the creek without a paddle on Thursday after losing her Olympic silver medal.

Taylor, second with Kate Slatter in last Saturday's women's coxless pairs, left her medal in the back of a taxi after a night on the town, the Australian Olympic Committee said.

It put out an appeal to Sydney taxi companies to hunt for the medal and hand it in to the nearest police station.
Maurice Greene said he never threatened to boycott running on the U.S. men's 400-meter relay because Curtis Johnson had not been included in the American relay pool. What he told team officials, Greene said, was that he offered to skip the first round to allow all six members of the relay pool to share in a possible gold medal.

Greene is now scheduled to run the anchor leg in all rounds, the first one coming up on Friday. However, the same can't be said for Donovan Bailey, the 1996 Olympic 100-meters champion. Bailey has withdrawn from Canada's 400-meter relay team. He did not finish his second-round heat in the 100 meters after suffering from influenza.

The United States Olympic Committee, stung by allegations that it hid positive drug tests among its athletes, said Wednesday night that it would establish an independent body to review its drug-testing programs.

Martin Doktor of the Czech Republic, the reigning Olympic champion in the 500- and 1,000-meter men's canoe events, was reinstated in the shorter event after an appeal. He was disqualified for drifting too close to the leader in a first-round heat.

Ramil Islamov's attempt to con the judges in his Olympic 63 kg freestyle wrestling bout went seriously wrong on Thursday. Islamov from Uzbekistan lay writhing in simulated agony after being flung to the mat by American Cary Kolat, clutching his left knee and screaming in pain. It was more like the U.S. professional wrestling circus than the noble arena of the Olympics. Kolat later pinned Islamov to win his opening match.

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