Frustrated by a bungled start in the 100 meters, reigning 100-meter Olympic silver medalist Lauryn Williams blazed to a win in the 200 meters in a wind-legal 22.85 seconds Saturday at the 67th California Invitational Relays.
Williams' winning time at Modesto Junior College was one of the fastest by an American this year.
"I prefer the shortest race possible," the 5-foot-3-inch sprinter joked after the race. "For me being a true sprinter, I'm usually coming down the home stretch saying, 'God help me, please!' "
Williams, 24, was in no joking mood after the 100, which she won in 11.18 seconds after overcoming a slow start. Williams said the starter ordered the runners into the "set" position before she was settled into the starting block.
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"I was still moving around," Williams said, overcome with frustration. "They're supposed to wait until everyone's still."
Williams said she wasn't panicking over her opening 100-meter race of the season.
"A lot of the girls have opened up at 10.9 already," she said. "I'm not worried. It's a good starting point."
Michelle Perry, a favorite to win the 100-meter hurdles in the Beijing Olympics this summer, gave Williams a race early in the 100 before pulling up about halfway to the finish line. Perry's agent said the injury was believed to be a cramp, and her leg was wrapped following the race.
Veteran sprinter Chryste Gaines began the campaign to resurrect her career from the second heat of the 100, taking third place overall in 11.39 seconds. Gaines, 37, is one year removed from a two-year suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. She won Olympic gold in 1996 as part of a winning 4x100 relay team.
"I'm not back, I'm here," Gaines said, dismissing any negative press of her return to the sport. "I'm just like anyone else trying to make the Olympic team."
Williams won the Olympic silver medal in the 100 in 2004, the gold medal at the 2005 World Championships and a silver medal at the 2007 Worlds.
She doesn't have to worry about negative press, having received the Visa Humanitarian Athlete of the Year Award in 2006.
Williams will fly back to Miami, where she trains at her alma mater with University of Miami coach Amy Deem, to begin the tough work of preparing for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.
The 200 in Modesto may give American sprinters a second reason to worry in Eugene.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.