Athletics: Ahead of the game: Four athletes for the others to follow in Spain

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The Independent Online
Jonathan Edwards

THE world athlete of 1995 must have feared a third successive season of frustration when he suffered an ankle injury in a sprint race before contesting his first triple jump of the year. But with his second-round jump in the Bupa Games in Birmingham last Sunday, Edwards took the literal and metaphorical hop, step and jump forward he had in mind when deciding to tackle his first indoor season for five years. In consigning Keith Connor's 17-year-old British indoor record to history, with a jump of 17.64m, he gave a strong indication that he may return from Valencia as the world record holder indoors and out. He is in shape to threaten the indoor mark, 17.83m, held by the Cuban Aliecer Urrutia - and may even break the 18m barrier.

Ashia Hansen

SILVER medallist in the triple jump in the world indoor championships in Paris last year and fractionally outside the major championship medals in the Olympic Games and world championships in the past two outdoor seasons, Hansen is hitting a golden seam of form as she prepares for Valencia. In Ghent a fortnight ago and in Birmingham, her adopted home city, last Sunday she claimed the scalp of Sarka Kasparkova, the Czech world champion. On the latter occasion, Hansen, who was born in Evansville, Indiana, but has lived in Britain since the age of six, took her tally of British records to 19 with a jump of 14.84m. She may, though, have to go closer to 15m, or beyond, to secure her first international title.

Tony Jarrett

COULD this be the the Haringey hurdler's big chance finally to strike international championship gold? It would seem so, from the evidence of his performance at the National Indoor Arena last Sunday. The four men who followed him across the line were, respectively, the leader of the 1998 world rankings, the 1996 Olympic silver medallist, the world indoor champion and the World Championship bronze medallist from Athens last summer. The last was the closest European; the Slovakian Igor Kovac finished 0.21sec behind Jarrett. Not since he won the European junior title 11 years ago has the Londoner hit the international championship gold standard. There should be more than a silver lining for him this weekend.

Solomon Wariso

REVEALED in all his glory as a world-class 400m man in the AAA Indoor Championships a fortnight ago, the erstwhile 200m runner travels to Valencia as favourite. In the Bupa Games last Sunday Wariso could not match the stunning 45.72sec clocking that took him to the top of the world rankings. He paid the price for attempting to break Sunday Bada with a scorching start, tiring off the last bend as the world indoor champion eased to victory. It was, however, a bold approach that confirmed Wariso's intention to make an impression at the highest level. He does, after all, sport a "Superman" tattoo on his left arm. His rivals may need some kryptonite to stop him succeeding Du'aine Ladejo as European indoor champion.