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Athens Showered With Field Of Fallen Stars

Sun., Aug. 3, 1997, midnight

Gold medal favorite Kelly Holmes called it her personal curse. The way stars were dropping out during Saturday’s opening session, that complaint could have applied to the whole World Championships.

More than half a dozen world champions and world record-holders failed to make it through the first of nine days of competition.

Some succumbed in the sweltering heat that peaked into the 90s. U.S. Olympic champion Randy Barnes just didn’t throw the shot put far enough to make the final and double world champion Andrei Abduvalyev of Uzbekistan could not get the hammer past the qualifying mark.

Barnes couldn’t find words for his inability to get a toss beyond 64 feet, 1/4 inch, more than 11 feet short of his world record.

“I can’t explain it,” said Barnes. “I don’t know what happened.”

In the 10,000 meters, former gold medalist Derartu Tulu failed to get to the finals, finishing 11th in her heat.

Others simply didn’t show up.

Despite earlier assurances that her injury had sufficiently healed, Ukraine’s Inessa Kravets did not compete in the triple jump.

Algerian Hassiba Boulmerka, the 1992 Olympic 1,500 champion, also was an unexplained no-show.

Others tried and ended up in pain.

For 1993 triple jump world champion Anna Biryukova of Russia, it all went wrong on the opening jump of her championships. She ruptured a tendon in her right knee and collapsed in the sand pit, from where she was carried off on a stretcher.

Holmes broke down in tears after she pulled up during the last lap of the 1,500 with a calf injury.

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