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Bullet from Belarus

By The Rediff Team
August 22, 2004 02:20 IST
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Yulia Nesterenko of Belarus became the first non-American since the 1980 Olympics in Moscow to win the women's 100 metres dash at the Athens Games on Saturday.

In the last final of the day's proceedings, the 25-year-old came up with a powerful burst 25 metres from the end to clock 10.93 seconds and finish ahead of the United States' Lauryn Williams, who ran a personal best of 10.96sec, and Veronica Campbell of Jamaica, who timed 10.97sec, in that order.

Instead of one of the sport's big names winning the title of the fastest woman in the world it was the little-known from Belarus.Yulia Nesterenko

Clearly emotional, Nesterenko told reporters straight after her lap of honour: "I am very, very happy. For six months I have been working and training very hard so I knew I could win."

Nesterenko came to the Games with a personal best of 11.02 seconds. She bettered it in all three qualifying rounds and the final, dipping under 11 seconds each time and clocking a national record 10.92 in the semi-finals.

Nesterenko sounded a warning of her ability at the world indoor championships in March when she won bronze over 60 metres.

"I did not just arrive from nowhere," she said on Saturday. "I was on the podium (at the world indoors) in Budapest."
Indications that she would win came in the heats as she blazed to a 10.94 win in the Friday's second heat, the year's second-fastest time and seven-hundredths of a second faster than she had ever run before.

She also became only the fifth person this season to run inside 11 seconds and her time was the second fastest this year.

The Olympic motto is 'Citius-Altius-Fortius' which translates from Latin to 'Faster-Higher-Stronger'. That's exactly what Nesterenko accomplished. For that she is our Olympian of the Day.

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The Rediff Team