Athletics: Backley is ready to raise the ante: Mike Rowbottom looks forward to the prospects for British athletes at tonight's Grand Prix meeting in Oslo

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The Independent Online
OSLO'S Grand Prix meeting at the Bislett Stadium tonight gives Liz McColgan the opportunity to show that anything Elana Meyer can do, she can do better. McColgan saw a television recording of her rival for the Olympic 10,000 metres gold running the sixth fastest 5,000m time ever in Stockholm on Thursday.

The world champion tends to shy away from discussing her opponents, but even she had to acknowledge that Meyer's performance in running 14min 51.42sec was 'good' - high praise from the normally circumspect Scot.

In a race where she will have strong opposition from her team- mate, Jill Hunter, McColgan is seeking at least to break her own 5,000m best of 15:01.08, set five years ago on the same track. If things go well, however, she will attempt to better Meyer's time And perhaps even threaten Ingrid Kristiansen's world record of 14:37.33.

Stockholm proved a chastening experience for several fancied British athletes - not least Roger Black, whose morale sagged as he struggled to third place in the 400m behind Quincy Watts, of the United States, running his slowest time of the season.

As Steve Backley, one of only two British winners on the night with a javelin throw of 85.90 metres, pointed out, it was a far cry from the cosiness of Britain's Olympic trials the previous weekend. 'It was our own little world,' he said. 'It was great fun and there were some great performances but now it's a different ball game.'

Backley will up the ante tonight when he takes on Jan Zelezny, of Czechoslovakia, who took the world record from him at this meeting two years ago. Zelezny threw 90.02m at the end of last month, the second furthest of the year behind Backley's world record of 91.46m achieved in Auckland on 25 January.

Tom McKean, who finished encouragingly close to Mark Everett in Stockholm, has an even more challenging task in the 800m tonight as he attempts to track both Everett and the man who beat him in the United States Olympic trials in a time of 1:42.80, Johnny Gray.

Kevin McKay, the 1500m winner at the British trials, prepares for the biggest international race of his life in the Dream Mile against, among others, an out-of- form world champion Noureddine Morceli, and an in-form Gennaro Di Napoli. And the three Kenyans who will form their 1500m team at the Olympics.

Meanwhile, 300 miles north of Oslo in the seaport of Trondheim, Daley Thompson is due to make his 11th-hour attempt to qualify for a fifth Olympic decathlon. The 33-year-old world record-holder, who has struggled to recover from a dislocated collar bone, must achieve the Olympic A qualifying mark of 7,850 points when he competes over the weekend as a guest in an international match against Norway.

Alex Kruger has the same target if he is to take up his provisional place for Barcelona. The omens are not good - the forecast is for rain and a strong north wind.

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