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Sept. 17, 2004

The traditional IAAF press conference hosted by President Lamine Diack on the eve of the second World Athletics Final took place at the Monte Carlo Grand Hotel in Monaco on Friday, September 17. The press conference included USC graduate and Olympic golf medalist Tonique Williams-Darling and USC volunteer coach Allen Johnson.

This weekend the twosome will join Otis Harris (400m), Melissa Morrison (100m hurdles), Terrence Trammell (110m hurdles) and Aleen Bailey (100m, 200m) in the Golden League Finals in Monte Carlo.

In addition to President Diack and local representatives SEM Bernard Fautrier, vice president of the Monegasque Athletic Federation, and Jean Pierre Schoebel, meeting director, the press conference was attended by two-time Olympic gold medalist Kelly Holmes of Great Britain, Olympic champion and World record holder Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, Olympic bronze medallist Naman Keita of France, World number one-ranked Asafa Powell of Jamaica and four-time World champion Allen Johnson of the U.S. on the men’s side.

Here’s a transcript of the USC-affiliated athletes’ quotes.

Tonique Williams-Darling
Competing in the World Athletics Final 400m on Sunday, September 19
Ranked number one in the 400m and number four overall

“This year the dream has definitely come true for me. I have achieved in one year what athletes do in a whole career and I really do feel blessed.

I believe running under 49 seconds this weekend will be possible. The fact that there are no rounds and that everyone is fit, I definitely think 48 seconds is within reach. And if Ana Guevara wears her full body suit, I will definitely run under 49 because in that case she means business.

I believe jumping five meters is possible but not this year. I want to get there step by step – little by little. Every time I break the world record, it means that I win the competition. And when I win the competition, I am happy!”

Allen Johnson
Competing in the World Athletics Final 110m Hurdles on Saturday
Ranked number one in the 110m Hurdles and number five overall

About his fall in Athens-

“I was shocked when I hit the ground. Now, I have accepted it and moved on. Falling in Athens was a major disappointment in my season but overall I am pleased with myself because I still feel I have dominated my event. I have won races and lost races. I have run fast times so overall it has been a good season.”

What happened in Athens motivates me more for next year. The competitor in me was looking forward to taking on the medallists from Athens this weekend but unfortunately none of them is here in Monaco. I wanted to find some way of duplicating that Olympic final and prove to them I am still here.

I will train harder this winter and my motivation in training will for sure be more thorough so I will be ready to take on those guys at next year’s World Championships.

Liu Xiang’s world record was a bit of surprise for me. I thought he could run under 13 seconds for having run against him I knew he was ready to run that fast. But honestly I thought he would have run somewhere between 12.98 and 13.06. I believe the 110m hurdles will be the most exciting event at next year’s World Championships.”

All athletes were then asked whom they thought the athlete of the year should be–apart from themselves.

Tonique Williams-Darling – “Kelly Holmes for being a double Olympic champion and because she is sitting on my right.”

Kelly Holmes – “Tonique Williams-Darling for her undefeated season and because she is sitting on my left.”

Yelena Isinbayeva – “I cannot answer this question because I think it will be me!”

Naman Keita- “Hicham El Guerrouj and Kelly Holmes for both winning two gold medals in Athens.”

Asafa Powell – “Veronica Campbell for her three medals in Athens.”

Allen Johnson – “It will be a three-way tie between Tonique Williams-Darling, undefeated this season; Kelly Holmes, double Olympic gold medallist and Yelena Isinbayeva many times world record breaker in the women’s. And a three-way tie between Hicham El Guerrouj for his double Olympic gold, Asafa Powell for his dominance in the 100 and Liu Xiang, because I’m a hurdler, in the men’s.”