The heat in south Louisiana was enough to double athletes over with cramps, send fans scrambling for shade and keep the surface of the track simmering at more than 114 degrees.
Through it all, Marion Jones kept her cool.Jones ran away from the fields in the 100 and 200 meters and won the long jump in the USA Track and Field Championships, becoming the first woman to take the three events in 50 years.
"I'm happy it's over and I did it," Jones said. "Now I can go on and concentrate on the rest of my season. I'm just happy I did it and stayed healthy. It was really hard."
Jones, 22, captured attention just a year ago by winning the 100 in 10.97 seconds and the long jump at 22 feet, 9 inches, beating the great Jackie Joyner-Kersee in the U.S. championship. She is the first athlete to capture the three women's events since Stella Walsh did it in 1948. Jones wrapped it up Sunday, winning the 200 in 22.24 while running into a headwind.
The time was the second-fastest of the year and only Jones has run faster.
"I didn't feel any pressure," Jones said. "I knew if I came out and ran the way I knew I could, I could win. With the heat it was hard. The 100 and the long jump and then having to come back and run the 200 twice, that really took a lot out of me."
Jones won the 100 on Saturday with a time of 10.72, and again only she has run faster this year.
Her winning effort in the long jump was a wind-aided 23-8, and only she has jumped farther in 1998.
In the 200, she bolted quickly out of the blocks, took the lead early and kept increasing the margin until 15 meters remained, when she eased up.
Jones' remarkable feat overshadowed four world-leading performances.
The most startling was Bryan Bronson's 47.03 clocking in the 400 hurdles. Bronson's time was the fastest on American soil and the third fastest ever.
Reggie Torian, the 1997 NCAA 110 hurdles champion from Wisconsin, ran the fastest race of his career in winning in a world-leading 13.03. He edged Mark Crear, the runner-up in 13.06, the second fastest time this year.
Kim Batten won her fifth straight title and sixth overall in the women's 400 hurdles, clocking a world-leading 53.61.