Athletics: Black set for Johnson rematch

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The Independent Online
ROGER BLACK will race over 400 metres against Michael Johnson on Friday week at the Crystal Palace grand prix event, which is to be sponsored for the next three years by TSB for a total of pounds 1.4m.

Never before has a major British outdoor meeting had to leave it so late to announce sponsorship - a sign of the times. The event would have gone on even if a sponsor had not come up, as the British Athletic Federation had offered to underwrite it for one year at least. But the decision of TSB to top up the pounds 4.2m they have already pledged to the sport over three years has established Britain's only remaining grand prix event on a secure footing following the withdrawal of its sponsors of the last three years, ParcelForce.

Although Johnson, the world 200m champion, has chosen not to double up at 400m in Barcelona, he will provide a realistic guide as to how Black's medal prospects stand, having run 44.23sec already this season. Black, beaten out of sight by Johnson in his first race of the season in Barcelona, will probably need to improve on his season's best of 44.84 to make a close race.

Daley Thompson will compete at Trondheim, in Norway, this weekend in an attempt to earn selection for what would be his fifth Olympic decathlon. The 33-year-old former world and Olympic champion, struggling to regain fitness after dislocating a shoulder, needs to achieve the A qualifying standard of 7,850 points if he is to take up the place provisionally offered to him by the selectors on Monday.

That will be a tall order indeed in what will be Thompson's first decathlon since he finished fourth in the Seoul Olympics four years ago. There have been some signs of recovery, however; Frank Dick, the national director of coaching who advises Thompson, says he has managed a 4.50m pole vault since his training accident.

Thompson will compete as a guest in a pre-arranged international multi-events match against Norway for which Alex Kruger, the other decathlete required to reach 7,850 points by 10 July to claim a place in Barcelona, is in the British team.

Jon Ridgeon, who failed to gain the third 110m hurdles place for Barcelona at the weekend's Olympic trials, gained a small measure of comfort last night by winning at the Helsinki grand prix in 13.66.

At the same meeting Noureddine Morceli, the world 1500m champion who three weeks ago was beaten for the first time in two years, nearly lost again, this time to Qatar's Mohammed Suleiman. Both clocked 3min 34.89sec, Morcelli just getting the verdict. The 22-year-old Algerian has been troubled by a hip complaint this year.

Katrin Krabbe, cleared of doping charges at the weekend, was named in the German Olympic sprint relay squad yesterday but said the four- month ordeal has upset her training and that she is undecided whether to compete. 'We will have to see how it goes in the next week,' Krabbe said.

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