KINGSTON, Jamaica,— Merlene Ottey missed out on an automatic spot to run the 100 metres at the Sydney Olympics when she could only finish fourth in the Jamaica trials final on Friday night.

But she gets a second chance of making the Olympic squad on Saturday when she contests the 200 metres and she could also still make it as part of the relay team.

Ottey, 40, needing a top-three finish to guarantee selection for the 100 metres at the Games, ran 11.27 seconds in the final with Peta-Gaye Dowdie retaining her title in 11.19.

It was Ottey’s slowest effort of the three appearances she made at the meet. She had clocked 11.09 in the first round Thursday and 11.15 in the semifinal earlier on Friday.

Dowdie, the U.S. Collegiate 200-metre champion, survived a tight finish, to beat 1999 world championship 200-metre silver medallist Bev McDonald (11.20) and Tanya Lawrence (11.21).

Ottey, winner of seven Olympic medals and 14 world championship medals including two gold, has been at every summer Games since Moscow in 1980.

She said on Friday her enforced absence from athletics as a result of the drug-taking allegation had been like a ‘death sentence’ but she remained confident she would get in shape in time for the Games.

Ottey said: ‘In about six weeks I can get to running under 11 seconds … I’ve done it in the past. I have the experience and I have the confidence.’

Ottey was banned after testing positive for the controversial anabolic steroid nandrolone but the ban was lifed on July 3 by an International Amateur Athletic Federation panel.

Reuters

Sourde: SOCOG