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?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower