Athletics: Britain fail to make up ground

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S athletes, weary of limb but sound of spirit, found the task of making up 12 points on Africa, the World Cup leaders on the final day, beyond them although they got to within one point with three of the 20 events remaining as Brendan Reilly gained third place in the high jump.

But the challenge fell away as John Mayock struggled to seventh place in the 5,000 metres and Mick Hill took fifth place in the javelin behind a championship record of 88.26m by the Olympic champion, Jan Zelezny. Third place in the 4 x 400m relay thanks to Du'Aine Ladeja, Jon Ridgeon, Allyn Condon and Mark Richardson assured them of finishing second as the leading individual nation. They finished with 103 points, 12 points behind Africa and four ahead of Europe.

Colin Jackson ended his season in the best possible fashion with a commanding win over the high hurdles. Despite running in a swirling wind in the Estadio Panamericano and colliding with the final hurdle, he produced a time of 13.07sec, just three hundredths of a second outside his European record. A pleasing performance at the end of a long, hard year? 'Yeah,' he replied. 'Shame it wasn't at the Olympics though.'

His failure to do better than gaining seventh place in an Olympic final he was widely expected to dominate was rendered a little more palatable by the fact that he was carrying a rib injury. But the painful thought of what might have been remains.

His performances before and after the Games, including his run last night - which came after times of 13.04 amd 13.06 - have merely confirmed for him his pre- eminence in the event, even though it was his great friend, Mark McKoy, who took the big prize in Barcelona.

Asked if there was any doubt in his mind who was the world No 1, he replied without hesitation: 'There is no doubt in anybody's mind. In my competition after the Games I was re-establishing myself. I think it has been the best series of times in the world ever.'

Despite having one of the two false starts credited to him, Jackson pulled smoothly away from a field whose fastest other runner - following the withdrawal of Tony Dees, of the United States, - was the Unified Team's Sergei Usov, who had a best of 13.27.

Linford Christie, drafted into last night's 200m following John Regis's accident on a jet-ski, rose to the occasion by finishing second, in 20.72, to Robson Da Silva of the Americas, who proved strongest down the finishing straight to record a time of 20.55. Although Christie was unable to hold off Da Silva, he gained valuable points by staying ahead of Africa's Oluyemi Kayode, who was seventh in the Olympic final which a weary Christie failed to reach.