Athletics: Black set for final flourish in Sheffield

By Adam Szreter

WITH MICHAEL Johnson declining an invitation to appear and the malaria- stricken Wilson Kipketer also absent, the boost that British athletics was looking for arrived right on cue this week when Roger Black announced that tomorrow's British Grand Prix in Sheffield would be his farewell appearance, guaranteeing an attendance far in excess of what the organiser, Fast Track, could have dared to hope for.

But Alan Pascoe's outfit, while privately pleased with this short-term shot in the arm, will doubtless be among the first to admit that the controversial circumstances surrounding Black's premature retirement could just as easily turn out to be a long-term shot in the foot. The sport in this country needs all the goodwill it can generate and the selectors might have been forgiven for bending over backwards to accommodate the desires of the public to include such a popular athlete.

But by excluding Black from the individual 400 metres at this year's European Championships the selectors have risked tarnishing the sport's image at a time when, we are told, image is everything.

The task of rebuilding that image continues at the Don Valley Stadium tomorrow, where we are promised by the organisers that: "with the use of music, a huge video screen and new presentation techniques the British Grand Prix will be the most entertaining meeting ever staged in this country".

Similar efforts were made at Gateshead earlier in the season but atrocious weather spoiled that attempt, so it is to be hoped this time that at least they are given the chance to shine.

Black's 400m race is the final event of the evening and he faces Mark Richardson and Iwan Thomas but not Solomon Wariso, who injured himself in beating Black to third spot at the AAA trials last weekend.

Johnson's absence is apparently due to lack of form rather than money - he allegedly turned down $100,000 to compete in Paris on Wednesday in favour of returning to train in Texas.

Highlights before that include Colin Jackson taking on the three Americans who beat him over the high hurdles at the Goodwill Games last week - winner Mark Crear, Olympic champion Allen Johnson and Reggie Torrian, the fastest in the world this year. Jonathan Edwards confronts the delightfully named American La Mark Carter in the triple jump, while Steve Backley will be aiming for a measure of revenge over South Africa's Marius Corbett, who beat Backley to the javelin gold medal at last year's World Championships.

A couple of interesting 3,000m races see Kenya's Paul Tergat, four times world cross-country champion, head a strong African representation in the men's event while Ireland's Sonia O'Sullivan and Britain's Paula Radcliffe renew their rivalry in the women's race and Svetlana Masterkova, a double Olympic champion in Atlanta, re-emerges after a quiet year to attempt a world record in the women's mile.

Given the constraints of its budget and the fact that the British Grand Prix is no longer among the elite in European terms, Fast Track has done well to come up with the names it has. But tomorrow the focus will be on Roger Black - perhaps for the last time, but you never know.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor