Full Name: Marion Jones
Birthday: October 12, 1975
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Sports: Track & Field
Marion Jones was born in Los Angeles, California on October 12, 1975. As early as the age of 5, she was able to outrun her older brothers, and before athletics became a part of her life, she played tetherball with a passion.
She began playing basketball at an early age, and also made it onto her junior high school track team. She won both the 100- and 200-meter sprints at the California High School state meets four years running, between 1990 and 1993. She also won the same events at the USA Juniors meet of '91 and '92, and was named High School Athlete of the Year those same two years.
During the 1992 Olympic trials, 16-year-old Jones finished fourth in the 200m and fifth in the 100m, and declined an offer to run on the 4x100m relay team. She participated in her first World Juniors that same year, where she finished fifth in the 100m and seventh in the 200m, and also played on the U.S. World Junior Championship basketball team. Track & Field News ranked her No. 5 in the U.S. in both the 100m and 200m that year.
Jones graduated from Thousand Oaks High in 1993 and went on to study journalism at the University of North Carolina on a basketball scholarship. She was a star player with the Lady Tar Heels, leading them on to two record-setting seasons, as well as the 1994 NCAA Women's Championships. That same year, she won both the 100m and the long jump at the ACC Championships; in 1995, she repeated her winning performance in the long jump at the same meet.
In 1996, Jones broke her foot while playing basketball, and as a result of her injury, was unable to try out for the U.S. Olympic track and field squad. By the time she graduated from university in 1997, she had made up her mind to concentrate solely on athletics, with the dream of becoming the fastest female sprinter on the planet. She claimed her first major international title that same year, winning the 100m race at the 1997 World Championships in Athens. She followed up with wins in the 100m and the long jump at the 1997 USA Outdoor Track & Field championships. Track & Field News ranked her No. 1 in the world in the 100m and 200m, as well as No. 2 in the U.S. in the long jump.
1998 proved to be a major year for Jones, as she finished first in 35 of 36 competitions. Highlights included first-place finishes in the 100m and 200m at the IAFF World Cup, as well as at the Goodwill Games. Track & Field News ranked her No. 1 in world in the 100m, 200m and the long jump, and also named her Athlete of the Year. On the personal front, she married world champion shot putter CJ Hunter, but they divorced in 2001.
In 1999, Jones won the 200m and placed second in the long jump at the USA Outdoors meet. She hoped to take four titles at that year's World Championships, but withdrew from the meet after injuring her back during the 200m. She did, however, manage to win gold in the 100m and bronze in long jump before taking the rest of the season off to recuperate.
Jones participated in her first Olympic Games in 2000, winning gold in Sydney, Australia, in the 100m, 200m, and 4x400m relay, and collecting bronze in the long jump and the 4x100m relay. Amid the glory came the bombshell that her husband had tested positive for nandrolone, a prohibited substance. Jones was grilled by the international press on the issue, but stayed focused on winning medals. She was named Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, the IAAF, ESPN, and Reuters, and ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100m and 200m.
She continued to dominate international athletics in 2001, winning her fourth consecutive title in the 200m at the USA Outdoor championships, and setting four out of five of the fastest times in the world, as well as the 10 fastest times in the United States. During the 2001 World Championships, Jones won the gold in the 200m and 4x100m events, but was upset by Zhanna Pintusevich-Block of the Ukraine in the 100m; it was the first time she had lost the event in six years.
Her performance in 2002 proved to be even greater, as she finished the season undefeated in all events, and was once again ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100m and 200m by Track & Field News. She moved in with champion sprinter Tim Montgomery and became pregnant later in the year, and did not compete throughout 2003. Their son, Tim Montgomery Jr., was born on June 28, 2003.
Jones returned to international competition for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Despite finishing first in the long jump during trials, she finished a disappointing fifth at the Games. She also competed in the 4x100m relay, where the team missed a baton pass during the final race. Although she failed to take home any medals, she vowed that the defeats would not deter her from trying out for future Olympics.
Warner Books released Life in the Fast Lane: An Illustrated Autobiography in July 2004, which tied in with her second Olympics appearance. In August, NBC aired a documentary, also entitled Life in the Fast Lane, as Jones was in Athens.
After all these positive events, however, Jones became embroiled in controversy. In December 2004, ABC's 20/20 program aired an interview with Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO, in which he claimed he had supplied Jones with banned performance-enhancing drugs before, during and after the 2000 Olympics.
Jones countered the allegations by filing a defamation lawsuit against Conte. She passed every drug test she was submitted to, as well as a lie detector test. Conte and three of his associates have been charged with money laundering and distribution of illegal steroids. Jones' suit maintains that Conte's allegations are false and malicious, and she is seeking $25 million in compensation for damages to her reputation.
The International Olympic Committee promptly joined the inquiry into Conte's accusations of Jones' use of steroids and other prohibited bodybuilding drugs, but has yet to charge her with doping offenses.
In 2005, the Euro Meetings Group proposed banishing Jones from participating in any of their meets. Jones called the ban "ridiculous," and appeared at the FBK Games in Hengelo, Netherlands, in May. On June 26, the sprinter withdrew from the U.S. Track and Field championships, citing strained quadriceps.