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MacGillivray Freeman FilmsTop Speed Project
Lucas LuhrMarla StrebStephen Murkett
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Marion Jones
Mode of Speed: Sprinting
Claim to Fame: Winner of Three Olympic Gold Metals
Top Speed: 23 miles per hour
Known by the super-hero-like nickname of “the fastest woman in the world,” Marion Jones may be one of the greatest track and field talents in history, winning championships not only on the track but in the long jump as well. She discovered her gift for speed as a kid, chasing her older brothers around the neighborhood when she was just five. Even then, her toughness was legendary, and childhood friends gave her the nickname “Hard Nails.” Soon, she was winning the 100-yard dash in youth track meets. Then, Marion saw something that changed her life forever: the 1984 Olympics. Watching women such as the great Flo Jo run, Jones was awestruck and made a promise to herself: she, too, would win Olympic Gold.

Meanwhile, Marion was becoming known for her game – her basketball game, that is. At the University of North Carolina, she became the Lady Tar Heels’ starting point guard, helping the team attain victory in the NCAA championship final. She even broke her foot playing basketball, preventing her from trying out for the Atlanta Olympics in track and field. But by 1997, when she graduated, Jones was focused on just one thing: becoming the world’s best female sprinter. In 1998, she won every competition she entered with one exception and set her fastest record to date: 10.65 seconds for 100 meters.

Shortly before the 2000 Olympics, Marion boldly announced her intention to win five medals. The pressure on her was enormous, the spotlight blindingly bright. But Jones let her talent shine. She ran the 100 meters in 10.75 seconds, beating her opponents by the largest margin since 1952. In the usually tight 200 meters race, she beat the next fastest runner by an astonishing 13 feet. Jones also won gold in the 4X400 relay and took bronze medals in the 4x100 relay and the long jump, winning five medals overall.

Marion became a heroine, not only for her athleticism, but also for her inspirational attitude and charismatic personality. Bright, beautiful and endlessly talented, she encouraged other women to go after their dreams all out.

Having studied journalism in college, she made her broadcasting debut in 2001, and has been featured on the covers of Vogue and Ebony magazines. Jones has also continued her dominance on the track, setting the top 10 fastest times in the US and four out of five of the fastest times in the world in 2001. In 2002, she completed the first undefeated season in her career.

Now in training for the 2004 Olympics, her tenacity and determination continue. Marion trains 6 days a week and does some 1,000 crunches and sit-ups per day! It’s all in the name of fulfilling on every last bit of her tremendous potential. For all that she has faced, Jones says she only has one truly formidable competitor: herself.

Q&A With Marion Jones:
Q: What is it inside that drives you to keep going faster and faster?

A: My life revolves completely around speed and almost everything I do is measured in mere seconds. I could talk about speed for hours and hours. It’s the reason for all my success and the force behind all my dreams and visions.

Q: Why do you think humans have a "need for speed?"

A: It’s all about pushing yourself to the limit, a very human desire to begin with.

Q: What is your favorite part of going fast?

A: I love the intensity, the explosiveness, the competition and the focus. Sometimes when I’m racing well, I don’t even feel my feet touch the ground.

Q: What does TOP SPEED reveal about the running process?

A: In TOP SPEED, you see the details you don’t usually get to see such as body position and the muscles accelerating. For me it’s a little scary. I don’t usually like to watch my races even when they’re on TV. To see myself race 8 stories-high is both a little terrifying and very exciting.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice about running fast to ordinary people what it would be?

A: The most important thing is to just enjoy yourself. Start out slowly and then work up to a great pace.

Q: In TOP SPEED, you say that in order to go fast, sometimes you have to slow down. What do you mean by that?

A: Well, I certainly am not training to be slower! But what I mean is that it’s important to balance life out. If I’m always explosive on the track, it’s good to explore the opposite extreme as well, which is why I do yoga.

Q: What does the future hold for you and running?

A: I hope to be considered one of the best athletes ever. When I have looked into the eyes of champions such as the Eveyln Ashfords and Jackie Joyner-Kersees, I’ve seen a sparkle and fire and whatever that is, I know I want it.

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