The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Athletes ready for chill-out zone

Paris: Marion Jones says she’s going to hang up her spikes and not watch athletics on TV. The world’s best 1,500m runner dreams of zooming around on his jet-ski. Felix Sanchez, king of the 400m hurdles, just wants to chill.

As the 2002 season drew toward a close with Sunday’s Grand Prix final here, the world’s best athletes looked forward to resting their finely honed bodies during a winter lay-off ahead of next year’s crucial world championship season.

“I will not come near any track at all,” said Jones, undefeated over 100 m this season. “I will not watch any track and field on TV and surely not wear my running shoes.”

French sprinter Muriel Hurtis agreed. “I want to have a complete break,” she said. “I don’t want to step onto the track, not even put on a pair of sneakers.”

Sanchez, the Dominican dominant this season in 400 m hurdles, plans to “just take it easy” for a couple of months before preparing for next year’s Pan-American Games, to be held on his home turf, and the World Championships in Paris. “I won’t travel and will not get up early in the morning,” he said.

One person who, it appears, badly needs a breather is Maurice Greene. The 100m Olympic and world champion pulled out of the Paris meet, citing fatigue. By his high standards, Greene had a disappointing season, defeated repeatedly by rivals he usually leaves in his tracks.

“He’s been on top for more than five years... His body needed a rest,” said fellow -American Tim Montgomery, among those who beat Greene this season. “He might still be recovering from his past efforts. But I have the feeling that he will be ready next season.”

For Hicham el Guerrouj, the 1,500m world record holder, home and the sea beckoned. “I want to go back to Morocco, see my family, do some jet-skiing and play golf. I must escape the routine of running every morning and evening, so I can find the energy to begin again next year.”

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