Athletics: Backley in high-profile return

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STEVE BACKLEY will make his javelin comeback on Friday, after nearly a year out with injury, in one of the best fields possible. Throwing against him in the Grand Prix meeting at Crystal Palace will be Jan Zelezny, the Olympic champion, Seppo Raty, the Olympic silver medallist, and Kimmo Kinnunen, the world champion.

Backley, who has had only six throwing sessions since winning a bronze medal in Barcelona, avoided returning at a low-key meeting. 'I'm the kind of athlete who needs to compete against the best,' he said. 'I've been throwing over 80 metres in training and I wouldn't be coming out now if I didn't think I could do myself justice. It's too early to talk about the World Championships.' Backley still needs surgery on his shoulder.

Also on Friday's bill are Steve Cram and Matthew Yates, racing in the 1500 metres against Abdi Bile, of Somalia, and chasing a World Championship qualifying time. Linford Christie meets Leroy Burrell in the 100m for the first time this season, and David Grindley returns after a knee injury against Quincy Watts in the 400m.