The victory, in a pulsating race that was in doubt until U.S. anchor Jason Lezak touched the wall a whisker in front of France's Alain Bernard, made Jones only the second African-American swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal, after Anthony Ervin in 2000.
"He was one of the good ones who came out of here," said Moustapha Kamara, a swimming instructor and supervisor at the Kennedy center. "It's a very proud feeling knowing that someone from here is coming home with the gold. It was overwhelming to actually see it."
Jones, 24, who currently lives in Raleigh, N.C., was born in the Bronx and grew up next door to Newark in Irvington, a city with a reputation for crime and violence that tends to overshadow most other news. He gravitated to the Kennedy center as a youth and competed on the local swim team there, impressing teammates with his work ethic.
Brennon Smith grew up across the street from the pool at a time when, he said, few people used it even though it was one of the only public recreation facilities in the area. Jones was a fixture there, and eventually his enthusiasm rubbed off on Smith.
"Even if no else was there, he'd be in there practicing," Smith said. "Watching how passionate he was about it got me into swimming. He was a great role model, always trying to help someone out."
Jones returned to Newark last fall to promote a water-safety program for urban children, an initiative spurred by a study by the Centers for Disease Control that showed the rate of drowning deaths for blacks between ages 10 and 19 was nearly three times that of whites.
The issue has personal relevance for Jones, who often tells the story of how he nearly drowned at age 5 when the inner tube he was riding at an amusement park flipped over and trapped him underwater.
Glenn Cassidy, who coached Jones at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, said the Americans' relay victory had him "jumping up and down, screaming and crying at the same time."
"It's about breaking stereotypes," Cassidy said. "For people to see someone of color who can stand out in a nontraditional area in a role that is positive, is tremendous."
* In the first official doping case of the Olympics, Spanish cyclist Maria Isabel Moreno was kicked out of the games after testing positive for EPO.
Moreno, who was to compete in the women's road race and individual time trial, was tested in the athletes' village July 31 and left China later the same day before learning the result, the International Olympic Committee said.
IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Moreno's sample came back positive for EPO, a blood-boosting hormone that enhances endurance and has been at the center of numerous doping scandals in cycling in recent years.
The IOC expelled Moreno from the games, revoked her accreditation and asked cycling's world governing body to follow up for any further sanctions. Athletes found guilty of doping typically get a 2-year ban.
Iraqi electoral process
* Iraq's government and the International Olympic Committee agreed on a process to govern the election of a new Iraqi Olympic body after a dispute prevented some Iraqi athletes from competing in the games.
* Athens gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor cruised to a 2-0 record in the beach volleyball round-robin, dispatching a pair of three-time Olympians from Cuba in straight sets, 21-15, 21-16.
With their 102nd consecutive victory, the Americans are virtually assured of reaching the Round of 16 that begins on Friday.
* American featherweight Raynell Williams easily won his opener, 9-1, over Italy's Alessio di Savino, improving the U.S. boxing team to 3-1 before lightweight Sadam Ali's evening bout.
* The U.S. women's water-polo team, with 10 first-time Olympians, overcame a shaky start to beat host China, 12-11, in preliminary play.
* The American women's eight crew is headed to the finals after winning its heat. The men's eight was second in its heat, dropping it into a second-chance race today in hopes of making the final; three men are back from the crew that won the first U.S. gold medal in 40 years in that event at Athens. *