Appeal to Christie to join Regis on track in Barcelona

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The Independent Online
Britain yesterday regained one top-class sprinter for this weekend's World Indoor Championships when John Regis confirmed he had recovered sufficiently from a hamstring injury to run the 200 metres, writes Mike Rowbottom.

Almost incredibly, the faint prospect has arisen of Britain regaining another world-class sprinter in Barcelona, following talk of a personal appeal to Linford Christie by the International Amateur Athletic Federation president, Primo Nebiolo.

Christie, who decided that he was too tired to run in the 60m two days after announcing his intention to compete, nevertheless intends to be in Barcelona to support his British team-mates.

"If I see him I will ask him to run. I believe it's my duty," Nebiolo said yesterday. "I think it will be good for him to compete. First he said yes, then no, yes, then no. I hope that in the end, when he sees the opening ceremony, as a great champion and athlete he will decide to run."

Tony Ward, the spokesman for the British Athletic Federation, said yesterday that there could be no question of jeopardising the place in the 60m of Mike Rosswess, who was called up to partner Darren Braithwaite when Christie's non- participation came to light at the weekend.

But he also floated the suggestion of the IAAF inviting Christie as a wild-card entry. Sue Barrett, Christie's agent, was perplexed at the news of Nebiolo's intended appeal, but she conceded that, as long as there was no question of any other British athlete being inconvenienced, it would not be a futile exercise.

"If the president of the IAAF were to ask him, and it was still possible somehow for him to run, I would not be surprised if Linford did change his mind, despite all the press criticism he might receive. He is basically a big softy," she said.

It certainly appears that Christie is more susceptible to being leaned upon than his fellow British world champions, Colin Jackson and Sally Gunnell. However, he would have made life far simpler for himself if he had done as they have and made an early, definite decision not to compete. But curiously, the names of all three British sprinters - Christie, Rosswess and Braithwaite - were on the start list published on Tuesday.

Regis, who injured himself racing against the European champion, Geir Moen, in Stockholm on 27 February, came through a midday session at the Haringey track without any problem, and will fly out to join the team today.