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Crawford launches run for more Olympic glory Sunday

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By Robert Howey

Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford launches his quest for more Olympic fame when the first round of the 200 meters begins Sunday.Crawford, a Van Wyck native and a former Indian Land High School state champion, will be in the first-round competition at 10:05 p.m. Sunday.Crawford, 30, is the defending 200-meter champion after winning the gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics with a time of 19.79.Crawford earned his bid to defend his Olympic title, placing a close second to Walter Dix in the Olympic Trials last month in Eugene, Ore.Crawford was close to his 2004 personal best of 19.79 seconds in narrowly losing the U.S. Olympic trials final to Dix. Both ran it in 19.86 seconds, a time only Jamaican world silver medalist Usain Bolt has bettered this year.Bolt has posted the year’s three fastest 200 meters times and the world record in the 100 meters.According to Track and Field News Magazine, Bolt is predicted to take the gold, with Dix the silver and Crawford the bronze.“He’s one of the best athletes out there now,” Crawford said of Bolt in an interview with Reuters. “You’ve got to train like you are on a mission to take him out.”Crawford, who battled a foot injury last year, has worked with a new coach, Bobby Kersee, since leaving Trevor Graham in 2006.Graham was convicted earlier this year of lying to federal investigators about his relationship to an admitted steroids dealer. He provided a vial of “the clear,’’ a then-undetectable steroid, to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, blowing the whistle on what became the BALCO case.Crawford is one of the few athletes in Graham’s camp to emerge unscathed from the drug scandal.Kersee had Crawford train as if he were running the 400 meters and it seemed to work as he peaked for the Olympic Trials.“I hung in there and I eventually caught up and mastered the workouts,” Crawford said of his new regimen with Kersee. “I also grew as an athlete. Now I am more diligent, I work harder and I am more patient.“I could be in better shape than I was in 2004, but I don’t know how to interpret it because I’ve never trained like this before,” Crawford told Sports lllustrated.George Williams, the men’s national coach from the 2004 team, said don’t count out Crawford.“He could come out there and upset anybody, because he’s had the experience of winning,’’ Williams said. “He’s been there. It could come down to experience and who’s been to the Olympics before. Because eventually, you’re going to be in a situation where you’re running in front of 90,000 people, and regardless of what you say, that will change the attitude of anyone who’s going to run.’’Crawford has been training with the U.S. Olympic team in Dalian, China, since Aug. 5. He’s been practicing for the 4x100 relay at the training camp.As of press time, the members of that team had not yet been chosen, but Crawford is clearly a contender. He won the silver medal in that event at the 2004 Olympics.For more on Team USA, check out www.nbcolympics.com.