Maurice Greene, who says he will break the world 100-meter record this year, tied it Friday night in the USA Championships, but his 9.84-second clocking won't count because of a prevailing wind.
The confident Greene matched the mark set by Canada's Donovan Bailey in the 1996 Olympics. However, a wind reading of 3.3 meters per second, or 7.38 mph, negated the mark, which came in a quarterfinal heat. For a time to be considered for a record, the wind reading must be no more than 2.0 meters per second, or 4.43 mph.Greene ran even faster on May 31 at Eugene, Ore., clocking 9.79 in the Prefontaine Classic. A strong wind also negated that time.
Three other runners - Obadele Thompson, Carl Lewis and Andre Cason - have run under 9.84, all wind-aided. Lewis and Cason did it twice each.
Greene then came back and won his semifinal heat in a legal 9.96. He got out of the blocks slowly after false starting once, but rallied to beat Dennis Mitchell (10.02) by two feet.
The 23-year-old Greene burst into world prominence last year by consistently running under 10 seconds, highlighting his season by winning the world championship in 9.86, the fastest legal time of his career.
Despite the sensational clocking in Friday's quarterfinals, Greene was unhappy with his race.
"It was terrible, technically terrible," he said. "My mind wasn't in it. I wasn't focused. My mind was wandering around."
Greene was satisfied with his technique in the semifinals, but said he had to be cautious after his false start. He also said he had to stop thinking about the world record.
"The first round, I'm sorry to say I was thinking too much about the world record instead of running my race and letting it come to me," he said. "It's time to step away from the world record, put it out of my mind and just run."
In another quarterfinal heat, Greene's teammate, Jon Drummond, won in 9.94, the fourth fastest legal time of the year.
Drummond had an inflamed groin at the end of the race and scratched from the semifinals.
Marion Jones, the women's 100 world champion, also ran two sizzling times in her quarterfinal and semifinal heats. She won her opening race in a wind-aided 10.75, then equaled her legal best, 10.71, in the semis, breaking Gwen Torrence's 1996 meet record of 10.82.
Jones, the world champion, defending champion and world's top-ranked women's sprinter, first ran 10.71 in China on May 12, matching the fifth fastest time in history. Only Florence Griffith Joyner, whose world record is 10.49, has run faster than Jones, with four performances under 10.71.
The wind reading on Jones' quarterfinal race was 4.1 meters per second, just over 10 mph. In her semifinal, the wind was just at the allowable 2.0 meters per second.
"Technically, there's always room for improvement," Jones said after her semifinal.
"I was just running down the track. I was feeling good. I was floating. I knew if I ran the way I could, I could do a 10.70 something. Let's hope tomorrow (in Saturday's final), it will be a 10.60 something."
Jones ran so effortlessly that it didn't appear she was being pushed.
"I know I'll be pushed in the final," she said.
Fellow sprinters marveled at Jones' speed.
"Marion's always the person to beat," said Illinois' Aspen Burkett, who finished third to Jones in the quarterfinals. "She has been for the last couple of years. Everyone knows that.
"The heat may take it out of the rest of us, it doesn't do anything to her. I told her, `Please don't blow me out. If I have to, I'll grab your jersey."'
Tameka Roberts, who ran in another heat, said, "She's just in her own world. You just don't pay attention to her. You just stay in your own world."
Chryste Gaines won the other semifinal in 10.96, matching her career best.
John Godina, seeking to become the first shot put-discus winner since Parry O'Brien in 1955, repeated as discus champion with a throw of 220 feet, 1 inch. Godina, the two-time world champion in the shot put, will try for his first national title in the event Saturday.
Lynn Jennings, 37, won her seventh 10,000 title in 12 years and her 10th national outdoor title, including one in the 5,000 and two in the 3,000, holding off Jen Rhines down the stretch in 34:09.86.
In other finals, Windy Dean of SMU won the women's hammer throw with a meet-record and personal best 210-4; Olympian Tom Pukstys won his second straight and fifth overall javelin title with a heave of 270-3; Roland McGhee captured the men's long jump at 27-2 on his final attempt; Marc Davis, the 1993 winner in the 3,000 steeplechase, won the 5,000 in 13:40.62; Tim Seaman took the men's 20-kilometer walk in 1:35:08; Kellie Suttle captured the women's pole vault at 14-0, and Joanne Dow won the women's 10-kilometer walk in 47:07.