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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Perec Lurks, Then Roars To Edge Ottey in 200-m

ATLANTA -- Third place, 12 meters to go, the crowd screaming, and France's Marie-Jose Perec found the last gear.

This was the original "sprint double" at the Summer Olympics, Thursday night, the one that was overshadowed and overlooked until the last 12 meters, when here came Perec of France, out of third, into first, and into the record books at the Centennial Games.

Perec won the women's 200-meter sprint, adding the gold to her previous 400-meter title.

Before Thursday night, the only other athlete to pull off the 200-400 double at the Olympics was American Valerie Brisco-Hooks at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. But those Games were boycotted by the Eastern bloc, leaving the best women runners on the sidelines.

Thursday night, Perec faced the best in the world and won going away in 22.12 seconds.

Merlene Ottey of Jamaica was second in 22.24. And Mary Onyali of Nigeria was third in 22.38.

"I'm on cloud nine," Perec said. "I don't know what's happening. I never thought I would succeed. The 200 is like icing on the cake."

For two-thirds of the race, it appeared like Ottey would get the gold that has eluded her throughout her Olympic career. She was leading coming off the turn and into the stretch, with Onyali second and Perec third.

"I was sandwiched between the two of them, and I knew I'd have to run for my life," Onyali said.

So did Perec. She didn't like her start much, but with her long legs and her endurance training for the 400-meter, she said she knew she could close with a rush.

"Everyone believed it was over for me," Perec said. "But I believed I could still win."

Running her eighth race of the Games, she somehow found the last gear that separates legends from also-rans. And she took off, running down Onyali, catching Ottey, touching the finish and history.

"Actually, I was just waiting for the right time," Perec said. "I didn't panic. The first, 100, 120 meters, the other girls were strong. I can't really be next to them after the start. My forte is at the end."

She finished first. She grabbed a French flag. She ran a victory lap. And then, like everyone else, she watched Johnson pull off the men's 200-400 double.

Did she feel overshadowed by the publicity surrounding Johnson? "No," she said to more than 500 reporters who were waiting for Johnson to appear at a news conference. "A lot of people are here. This proves people respect what I've done."